Note: This is the fourth and final post of a four-part series to help college students ensure their marketability in the industry upon graduation. Part three focused on what steps students need to take in their junior year.
You made it!! You are in your final year of academic study and are now ready to shift your career focus into fourth gear. In just a few months you will walk across the stage, receive your diploma and your college years will be over. You’ll be ready to start the next chapter of your life: your professional career.
As you complete these final classes and try to line up your first post-graduate job, I want you to consider these tips:
Interview, Interview, Interview. While I explained the importance of participating in several informational interviews in my last post, I cannot express how much this can help you.
The more you interview, the more prepared you will be for the real thing; and with good interviewing skills you can increase your chances of getting hired. Don’t be afraid to interview again with companies that you interviewed with in the past. As a recruitment professional I have interviewed students two to three times, and every time I interview them the interview is better. It’s important to understand that if you had an unsuccessful interview with a company as a sophomore, you should seek out another interview with them now as a senior so they can see your growth.
Also, if you’re a member of a student professional association, look for opportunities to interview at your association’s national meeting. For example, every year Sodexo hires a large number graduating college students at the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality national conference. This year’s conference will be held Feb. 10-13, 2011 in Atlanta. I hope to meet you there!
Follow-up. Say Thank You. After all of the interviews have taken place, begin the process of follow-up. Many companies like Sodexo will make offers several months before graduation. This is done to secure your employment so that you can quickly start in your new position.
Send hand written thank you notes; thank recruiters for taking the time to meet with you. Send follow-up emails to every person that you interviewed with, sharing with them how much you really enjoyed the interview and state that you continue to be extremely excited about opportunities with that company. Follow-up goes a long way. Ask the company representative for a time frame for when you should expect to hear from them again or when you should check back with them. But remember, follow up does not mean making multiple phone calls or sending weekly e-mails. Once you follow-up the first time, there is no need to keep calling or emailing, your intent should be to simply show that you are interested.
Consider a Plan B. Many students will try to get a certain position with a company and if they are not successful in getting that position, they will not continue to pursue other opportunities. If you apply for a retail manager’s position and another candidate is selected, move on to Plan B.
Will you accept a position as an environmental services manager instead? Would you accept a supervisor’s position until the position that you really want becomes open again? It is extremely important that you have alternatives in mind. When I accepted my first position with Sodexo as a production manager overseeing 30 cooks at Johns Hopkins Hospital, it was not the job that I really wanted. I had wanted a retail position in the café. But, I took the position and was determined to excel in that role so that I would be ready for the next opportunity that became available.
Be open to relocation. Many students want to find a job in their hometown. For most, it’s ideal because you have family there, you’re familiar with the area and perhaps the idea of living at home for a while sounds good financially.
However, does your hometown really offer the job opportunities that will jumpstart your career? You need to be open to the idea that, for your career, the right opportunity might be in a different city. This does not mean that you can never come back home, it simply means that you are willing to move for the opportunity. After you have been in your new job for a while, you may be eligible to apply for opportunities back at home. The great thing is that many companies will assist you with relocation costs.
Accepting the offer. Some college students will receive multiple job offers and will need to decide which company is best for them. Take some time to consider what is going to be best for you. Don’t feel pressured into making a decision the same day.
When an offer is made, ask if you can take 24 hours to consider the deal. Be sure to look at the total package and not just the salary. Look at the benefits package to include paid time off, medical benefits, 401(k) plans and company stock options.
Once you accept a job offer, be sure to thank all of the other companies that offered you a job. Let them know that you have chosen to accept a position with another company but appreciate their time to consider you. Don’t burn a bridge with the other companies because you never know if you’ll apply for a job with them in the future. So, be open and honest with them about why you are not accepting the offer. This will go a long way in the end.
Become a Star Finder. Share the great news about your new job with others! Encourage them to consider working for your company. You may even receive an award for the referral. At Sodexo, we have a program called Star Finder. Employees who participate receive financial benefits for referring job candidates who are hired.
Congratulations on launching your career! As you seek out companies this year for possible job opportunities, we invite you to network with us and pursue the great career opportunities that we have to offer at Sodexo. Look for our recruitment team on a campus near you, send us a Tweet or visit our Facebook page. Good luck!
Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR).