By now, hopefully you’re keeping up with all the great blog posts at StudentBranding.com. Now is as good a time as any to create a check point for yourself in your career strategy – whether you are currently still in school, soon to graduate or are a recent graduate. Based on the work you’ve done, the experience you’ve gained, your resume and interviewing skills – ask yourself, “Would I hire me?”
Are you getting the experience you need?
Be sure to take advantage of the opportunities around you to gain the experience and connections you need to be successful, such as:
- A part-time job, internship, or co-op in the field you want to pursue
- Performing well in your classwork
- Develop meaningful professional relationships with your fellow students and your professors.
- Learning all you can from your mentors
- Utilizing the resources offered by your career services office
- More on part-time jobs, internships, etc.
Do you have a strong resume?
Often, students and recent graduates feel like they do not have a lot of experience to put on their resume, but this isn’t necessarily true. Potential employers look for the following when reviewing the resume of a student or new graduate:
- Transferable skills
- Work experience (preferably in the industry of the position you are applying for)
- Results: How you performed in your responsibilities
- Leadership experience
- More on resume resources
Do you make a good first impression?
What’s the first thing a potential employer sees when you meet for the first time? There are some basics you should take care of when you walk into an organization for an interview:
- Always be polite to the person at the front desk. He or she is often asked about first impressions of candidates.
- Dress professionally.
- Minimize jewelry and skip the perfume or cologne. My great uncle used to say, “Perfume should compliment a lady – not introduce her.” In this case – a confident smile and handshake should introduce you.
- Basic hygiene is a must – bathe, brush your teeth, comb your hair, clean your fingernails.
- No limp fish handshake! You don’t have to strong arm your interviewer, but a firm handshake is a must.
- More on what to do before an interview
How Are Your Interviewing Skills?
If you’ve never been in a job interview, the thought of sitting in front of a stranger and convincing them you are right for a job or internship can be daunting. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare! Here are a few tips to help you determine what you need to work on.
- Practice with a friend, mentor, professor, career services staff or family member. (Most career services offices offer assistance for practicing interviews.)
- Eye contact is important. While you don’t want to stare down your interviewer (or interviewers), don’t stare at the floor or let you eyes bounce all over the room.
- Don’t tell your life story when an employer asks, “Tell me about yourself.” Specifically, give them a brief summary of your background as it relates to the position you are applying for. No more than 2-5 minutes.
- Follow up after the interview, but don’t hound the interviewer. These days, an e-mail to follow up with an employer is perceived to be acceptable, but nothing beats a thoughtful, handwritten thank you note.
- More on what to do during and after the interview
How will I remember to do it all?
Are you scratching or holding your head and thinking “How am I going to remember all that?” Don’t worry – if you’re reading this blog post or any of the others at StudentBranding.com – you are probably way ahead of most of your classmates. That is why it is so important for you chart your progess in your career search strategy – regardless of where you are in school. It avoids you having to try and remember to do all of these things right before you graduate.
Lanie James serves as Employer Development Coordinator for the Career Services office at Oklahoma State University, also known as HireOSUgrads.com . She holds both a B.A. in Journalism Broadcasting and a M.S. in Mass Communication from OSU. Her research emphasis focused on emerging and social media in Career Services. She also serves as the President of the Oklahoma Association of Colleges & Employers (@OkACE). Connect with Lanie on LinkedIn or Twitter @JLanie.