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Posted January 01, 2016 by

Connecting the dots: Creating a 2016 career action plan

Most college students make a list and check it twice before leaving campus during finals week. Catch up on countless hours of missed sleep during fall semester? Check. Hang out with hometown friends and reminisce about old times? Check. Curl up in Dad’s crusty old recliner and watch every episode of “The Big Bang Theory” aired since 2007? Check.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

There may be other items that make the list but rank lower in priority because, let’s face it, they’re simply not as fun to complete—obtain seasonal employment, complete the FAFSA online for the upcoming academic year, fill out grad school applications, stop by the local architect’s office to ask about a summer internship opportunity, etc. The list could literally go on FOR-EV-ER, as The Sandlot’s Squints puts it.

Realistically, many students head back to campus in January without having completed the lower-ranking, future-focused tasks. This doesn’t seem like a big deal in January; the entire spring semester lies before you like a blank notebook. Sounds simple, right?

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

But a blank piece of paper gets you nowhere in terms of a future career or internship (and certainly generates little cash flow). And most people, not just college students, tend to put off today what can be done tomorrow. Unfortunately, employers and recruiters don’t feel your procrastination pain. They only care if you’re the smartest and best if you’ve actually applied on time and filled their needs for openings.

While you still have time and aren’t stressed by the pressure of spring courses, pour a cup of coffee, prepare to brainstorm, and draft a simple 4-step blueprint for action.

1. Accept your limitations and lower your expectations. This might sound like odd advice, but it will keep you from dropping the career-planning ball altogether. Most of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought; this causes us to set ridiculously high expectations and goals (AKA perfectionism). It’s been said that it’s unrealistic to plan more than 90 days out, so don’t do it. If you do, you’re setting yourself up for failure before you’ve begun. Eat that elephant one bite at a time.

2.Identify a few (3 to 5) key career-related goals that matter to you. These goals need to be directly related to obtaining an entry-level job after graduation or an internship during the summer of 2016. Perhaps you’re not interested in an internship but are interested in obtaining part-time employment during the summer that relates to your academic major or minor. Regardless, you might need help with this step. Who can help?

a) 
College Recruiter’s blog. Keep reading this month and follow our blog (via email, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn). During January, you’ll read about nothing but information related to helping college students plan for and obtain entry-level jobs after graduation and internships during the summer.   b) Your career services office on campus.

Let’s pretend your goal is to work for Target Corporation in entry-level management near Houston, Texas, and  you plan to graduate in May 2016. This is a pretty specific goal (which is good—the more narrow your focus, the easier it is to set goals and action steps).

Some career-related goals might be:

  • Develop a more polished resume (your current resume was drafted when applying for college three years ago and hasn’t been updated since) and learn how to write a great cover letter.
  • Improve phone/online interview skills since you live three states away from Texas and will most likely interview over the phone or online.
  • Learn how to convey your “campus life” experiences as transferable skills during interviews since you’ve only held one part-time job and feel insecure about your lack of real-world experience.

(Spoiler alert: Stay tuned to our blog this month to learn about all this and more.)

3. Define action steps necessary to help you attain your 3-5 goals. This step’s crucial; goals are simply idealistic dreams unless you take steps to realize them.

Let’s stick with our hypothetical you who hopes to work in entry-level management for Target Corporation near Houston, Texas, after graduating in May 2016. Here are some suggested action steps:

  • Update existing resume with part-time job, volunteer experience, campus involvement, and coursework relevant to future employment.
  • Submit resume to College Recruiter’s free resume review service (yep, FREE) and to campus career services office.
  • Follow College Recruiter’s blog this month for posts related to interview skills. Search College Recruiter’s blog for past articles and webinars related to interview skills.
  • Attend mock interviews and career fairs on campus—these are free and afford you valuable practice.
  • Work on revising your resume to reflect transferable skills and to reframe the way you think about your own skills, too.
  • Search for job openings with Target Corporation near Houston, Texas, on College Recruiter’s website after registering. Registering first is important because College Recruiter sends you new postings (saving you time and effort).

4. Get busy. Blueprints look impressive hanging on the wall, but they’re much more impressive when framed inside the buildings built by the very architects who drafted them in the first place.

Developing an action plan is tough brain work—but the real work kicks in when you crawl out of the comfy recliner (even though you have three more days of winter break) and begin implementing your plan.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The payoff may not be immediate, but pretty soon you’ll see results—the empty page will fill with a pretty cool image you created by simply connecting the dots by taking action all semester.

 

Posted November 03, 2015 by

How to write better emails and cover letters

melinda osteen photo

Melinda Osteen

Because there are so many people looking for jobs, standing out is quite difficult these days. The hiring environment has changed, and candidates have to persuade employers without even meeting them in person.

The internet has interfered with the job market, too, and now the main tools of job seekers are resumes and cover letters. The basic rules of successful submissions are the same as the ones for traditional paper writing – no mistakes at all, clear structure, uniqueness, originality, and 100% professionalism. Along with these, there are other aspects that must be taken into consideration when applying online for a job. (more…)

Posted July 15, 2015 by

Caring for Your Cover Letter – 6 Tips for Success

Have you given much thought to writing a cover letter when applying for a job?  If not, you may want to think again.  Your cover letter supports your resume, but it also allows you to go into more detail about why you are the best candidate for a job.   Even if you are not required to have one, creating a quality cover letter can help you stand out from the competition.  Show how much you care about your cover letter by following these tips. (more…)

Posted June 18, 2015 by

Hunting for Your First Job in IT? Here Is How to Land It!

Young engineer business man with thin modern aluminium laptop in network server room

Young engineer business man with thin modern aluminium laptop in network server room. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Although there are tons of open job positions for IT specialists all over the world, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get your first job in this sector. There are many professionals with better skills, greater experience, and more recommendations that will attract an employer’s attention. How do you get the right people to notice you?

It is hard to get a job of this type with no previous working experience, but you cannot gain the needed experience if no one is willing to give you a job. That’s a paradox we’ll never solve. Don’t despair; there is always hope for everyone with the right set of skills needed for success in this industry. After all, you can attract attention with your own projects, right? Read on; the following tips will teach you how to get that first job in the IT sector. (more…)

Posted May 13, 2015 by

How To Write Crisp, Clean, Clutter-free Cover Letters!

Jimmy Sweeney

Jimmy Sweeney, President of CareerJimmy

There’s nothing quite like a crisp, clean, clutter-free dress shirt or blouse. It makes a statement about the person wearing it. And the same is true for a job search cover letter. Include your experience and skills in as few words as possible and then ask for an interview for the job you want. The hiring manager will remember you because your cover letter will have made a statement about you as a person. (more…)

Posted May 01, 2015 by

Make Yourself More Employable Upon Graduation – 6 Things You Can Do Right Now

Portrait of two happy graduating students. Isolated over white background.

Portrait of two happy graduating students. Isolated over white background. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Yes, it’s a tough job market; yes, the statistics say that the jobs are just not there the way they used to be. But a certain percentage of college grads do land jobs in their career areas. Sometimes it is because they are in high-demand, low-supply fields; in a few cases, they have contacts through a parent or other relative. But there are grads who land those jobs because they have taken some critical steps before graduation that just make them more attractive to employers. Here are 6 steps for you. (more…)

Posted December 26, 2014 by

Getting a Legal Internship

Law student outdoors

Law student outdoors. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Graduating law school is a great accomplishment. It takes a remarkable amount of studying and dedication to become a criminal lawyer. Lawyers are very bright people. However, you will still have work to do after you receive your diploma. Now you need to set your sights on getting a legal internship. As you might imagine, there is a great deal of competition for these coveted positions. Therefore, you need to do everything you can to set yourself apart from the other applicants. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can go about landing a legal internship as soon as possible after you graduate: (more…)

Posted December 12, 2014 by

Tips to use LinkedIn Smarty for Job Hunting

Linkedin.com homepage on the screen. LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service

Linkedin.com homepage on the screen. LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Social media is one of the best ways of finding a job and LinkedIn certainly has its advantages. Young students who are taking their first steps in the professional sphere can benefit from the contacts they can make on LinkedIn besides finding a direction for their career and finding job opportunities. There are a few ways you can use LinkedIn to your advantage. (more…)

Posted September 03, 2014 by

Writing Resumes for Entry Level Jobs? 7 Myths that Can Harm Them

For those of you writing resumes for entry level jobs, don’t fall for these seven myths found in the following post that could harm these documents.

When it comes to resumes, many job seekers seem to think all they need is a cover letter to fill in those pesky work gaps and mention those in-demand soft skills. Unfortunately, that mindset means your resume ends up on the rejection heap – and that you stay unemployed. “There are quite a

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Posted August 21, 2014 by

Tips for the Post-Graduation Job Search

Mother and daughter at graduation

Mother and daughter at graduation. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

After studying abroad, either during your undergraduate or graduate years, you face the unavoidable task of finding a job. Though it may seem like a daunting task, studying abroad has already helped prepare you for the job search by making you a better candidate. By doing your research, finding a job after graduating does not have to be overwhelming. To help you get started, check out our best tips for your job search.

Even before graduating from school and starting your job search, you can gain experience and build your resume by getting internships and jobs in the field you are interested in. These positions give you valuable experience while also showing your dedication to your field – making companies more likely to hire you. Internships and jobs also help you build connections in the industry, whether that means an internship turning into a full-time job or networking with employers your boss knows. (more…)