Taking steps to launch your career after finishing college can seem like a daunting process. No matter the type of business you choose to pursue, you’re likely to face a highly competitive work environment, and it can be difficult to know how to get your foot in the door when you’re first starting out. However, there are a number of ways in which you can set yourself up for greater success as you begin applying and interviewing for different positions. To help you kick things off the right way, here are a few suggestions for actions you can take.
Continue Educating Yourself
In order to make yourself into a more desirable candidate for a job in your field, it’s wise to learn as much about that job field as possible before launching yourself into applications and interviews. Read plenty of books and articles written by industry leaders, and make sure you’re keeping up-to-date with news related to any major changes or shake-ups in the business world. Listen to podcasts about entrepreneurship and establishing yourself as a leader, or attend public lectures and presentations given by professionals in your area. The better educated you are about what’s going on and what’s being discussed in your job field, the better an employee you’ll be able to be.
Get Your Personal Life Under Control
After you graduate college, it can feel like the sense of stability you’ve developed over the last four years has suddenly been ripped away from you. The prospect of starting your career might seem daunting on its own, and the feelings of uncertainty that accompany the job hunt will likely be exacerbated now that you won’t have the built-in safety net of seeing your college friends every day or having the structure of a class schedule to drive your day-to-day life. Top that with a looming pile of student loan debt, and your venture into the adult world might be downright overwhelming.
Take as many steps as you can to bring a sense of normalcy back into your personal life after graduation. Establish a debt repayment plan that you can realistically manage within your current financial situation. Monitor your monthly payments and any other expenses you may have through a mobile banking app so you can be absolutely sure that you know exactly where your money is going. Make a conscious effort to stay in touch with those who were part of your support system during college, and do your best to continue supporting one another as you navigate your way through this new phase of life. As an added bonus, spending time with your friends every now and then is a great way to keep up with your social skills when it comes time to interview or further your professional network.
Continue Expanding Your Network
While attending school, you probably met a number of classmates and professors who will eventually become valuable assets within your network. These are connections that will likely serve you well as you begin your job search after graduation, but if you want to find long-term career success, it’s important that you continue to expand your circle of connections as you venture further into the adult world.
Having success in business, especially if your aspirations lead you toward an executive role, often requires having a large network at your disposal. Your ability to obtain power and influence in your field will be, in part, dependent on the positive connections you have made and are able to maintain with others, so it is within your best interest to start making as many of those connections as you can now to give yourself a head start. The more people you have in your life that are willing to advocate for you and help you achieve your goals, the easier it will be to progress forward in your career.
Seek Out a Mentor
Finding a professional who has achieved significant success in business and is willing to provide you with advice and guidance as you build your own career is an invaluable experience. Not only will this person be able to share wisdom earned from their years of experience in the industry, but they might also be able to introduce you to even more people in the field that could help you move further ahead in your work path. Consult your network to determine if there’s someone you already know that might be a perfect fit as a mentor, or check in with other connections you have to see if they know of an option or two as well.
Once you’ve chosen your mentor, explore different ways in which they could help you become better prepared for your business career. Invite them out for a cup of coffee, for instance, and prepare a series of questions you’d like to ask them ahead of time. See if they will permit you to shadow them at their job or sit in on some of their presentations. Try to absorb as much knowledge and information as you can from your interactions with them, and apply that knowledge to the way you approach your job applications and interviews.
Make Yourself Stand Out (Positively!)
As an entry-level candidate fresh out of college, it’s probable—unfortunately— that your resume is going to closely resemble those of many other recent, similarly-qualified college grads. Unless you actively sought out unusual work and volunteer experiences as an undergraduate, there’s a chance that your list of qualifications might end up blurring together with the rest of the applicant pool. If that ends up being the case, you could be at risk of losing out on the job to someone who did a better job of presenting themselves as the best choice for the position.
Don’t let this be your fate! You deserve the chance to start your career and show the world what you’re made of as much as anyone else does, and it is of the utmost importance that you demonstrate that to your potential employers. Tailor your resume to the specific position(s) you’re applying to, and highlight the skills and experience you’ve gained in your background that best exemplify why you’re an ideal fit for each job. Yes, it’s a more time-consuming process, but if you want to land a position in a business that you’ll love and will be well-equipped to succeed in, it will be worth the extra effort.