- On May 27, 2014
With graduation season in full swing, a frequent comment I’ve heard from parents is, “My son/daughter graduated with XYZ degree but doesn’t really have an idea of what they want to do or how to start.”
While I am a leadership coach by trade, I also do a bit of coaching with those who are in career transition. I am a huge believer —and research has shown–that connections are key to landing a great job, so I suggest a few ideas to help grads prepare for the job search that go beyond writing a resume and scanning the job boards.
1. Connect with your Alumni office. The best view of your school is not seeing it in the rear view mirror as you drive away. It is actually coming back to it as an alum. Some colleges offer pre-graduation courses on finding the right career position, but if you’ve missed out, many alumni centers offer classes on resumes, interviewing and other job search techniques, and they may offer these on-line or as webinars. While you are reconnecting with your school, follow up with teachers that you’ve had over the years. Hope you didn’t burn your bridges; your teachers may know people in your chosen field and you may be asking to use them as a reference. If they are on LinkedIn, ask to connect with them (see #4 below).
2. No idea where to start? First, just pick a job or an area that sounds interesting to you. You can always adjust and change your mind if a different path presents itself. Second, if you really have no idea what aspect of your studied field you want to pursue, search around–online, in that industry’s magazine, and recent popular books concerning that area. It sounds like homework but way more fun. When you find something you want to know more about, ask your alumni office if there are grads who work in that field. Contact them as a fellow grad and ask to talk with them about how they got started, how they view the industry and career path, and what advice they have for someone getting started. This is not about asking for a job. This is gathering information and insights to better prepare you for presenting yourself for a job. (Search “informational interview” for more ideas)
3. Meet people who work in your field. How? Find out if there is a national society for your field–American Marketing Association, the National Association of Medical Sales Representatives TM, the Association for Financial Professionals? Is there a local chapter? Some associations offer a slew of webinars and other development resources where you can get a better idea on options in your field. Attending meetings—and volunteering to help with a committee—will put you face-to-face with people in your field. Check out www.Meetup.com. There are groups in Meet Up for just about every conceivable profession, hobby, and interest. Many Meet Ups are low/no cost and another way to expand your contacts in the field. Obvious and often overlooked, ask your friends if they know someone. They just might have a cousin doing something in that field.
4. Set up a LinkedIn profile. Google: “using LinkedIn in the job search” and you will find hundreds of articles, blogs, tip sheets to help you set up a professional profile. Recruiters use LinkedIn as a primary source for screening potential job candidates so it is important to be visible there. Once you are on LI, search the “groups” to find virtual groups in your field of interest and join a few. Follow the discussions for awhile so you can see what’s hot in the area and who the active participants are.
5. Never quit learning. Track a topic of interest with Google Alerts and you’ll get notices that will keep you up on news in that area– great fodder for contributing to LinkedIn groups and pithy insights at networking events. Who are the thought leaders in your field and what are they writing about? Read some stuff that is not a textbook and you won’t be tested on. Start a discussion on a relevant LinkedIn group about the top 2-3 ideas you find interesting.
What are some other ways to develop connections and deepen your understanding in a new career field?
Photo copyright Filipe Frazao on Shutterstock.com