8 Tips for Starting a College Senior Job Search

Teenager needs a job
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Even in the best of times, there are compelling reasons for college seniors to begin their job search as early as possible.

In fact, ideally, college students should take steps to lay the foundation for an effective search as early as the second semester of their freshman year. If you aren't in the minority who got such an early start, don't dismay since most of the proper steps can still be taken. Even if you're a senior who hasn't done much yet, semester break is an excellent time to work on job hunting.

Here are some of the best ways to get a head start on finding post-graduate employment:

Tips for Starting a College Senior Job Search

1. Tap Into Campus Recruiting Programs
Campus recruiting for many fields including finance, accounting, banking, consulting, engineering, computer technology and various management training programs begins early in the senior year.

It will be challenging for students to compose resumes and cover letters, practice interviewing and learn effective job search techniques while they attend class, complete assignments and participate in sporting and club activities. I recommend that students begin work on these tasks the summer before their senior year or during their junior year.

2. Start Building Your Career Network
Career experts universally agree that networking is one of the most effective strategies for college students to secure employment. It is highly recommended that students reach out to family friends, college alumni, and local professionals for informational interviews well in advance of their senior year.

These meetings will enable them to gain clarity about their goals, practice responding to questions about their background, impress contacts with the viability of their credentials and form personal relationships with employees who can influence hiring decisions. It will be difficult to arrange and participate in the optimal number of these consultations while on campus and it often takes time for these connections to yield interviews.

3. Take Advantage of Off-Campus Job Searching
Most college students will not find jobs through campus recruiting since these programs tend to serve the needs of the most competitive students in disciplines which are in high demand. The typical graduate will need to target jobs and employers in locations of their choice and travel to those sites for interviews. Targeting these employers and preparing materials with the help of college career offices in advance of senior year will be quite beneficial.

4. Utilize Your Career Services Office
Most college career offices are open during the summer and will be less busy that time. If you can find time for a call or meeting prior to your senior year, you'll have a head start. If not, make an appointment as soon as you can. Here's how your career office can help you search for a job, internship or other post-grad planning.

5. Consider an Internship as a Path to a Job
More and more employers are utilizing their internship programs are a mechanism to evaluate talent through first-hand exposure. Even those employers who do not recruit heavily from their own internship programs look for candidates with related experience since internships will confirm student interest in the field, provide the opportunity for skill development and yield concrete evidence of the candidate's ability to excel in a work setting.

6. Figure Out What You Want to Do
Most college students are uncertain about their career aspirations. Employers are wary of unfocused candidates and fearful that they will invest resources in training only to find that the recent hire has discovered that they would prefer another field. The process of deciding on a career can be quite time-consuming and often involves extensive research.

Meeting with career counselors prior to senior year for assessment will be a critical step for most college students. Effective career decision making will involve career research through print or online resources, counseling sessions, informational interviews and experimentation through volunteer and work experiences. Ideally, these activities will begin early in a student's college career.

7. Find Time to Job Shadow
Job shadowing experiences whereby students observe the work of professionals in fields of interest, sample work environments and vicariously try on various work roles are an excellent way to make contacts, impress employers and explore a broad range of occupations if begun early on. Colleges often target underclass students for these programs and use them as a device to spur involvement with the office.

8. Get Help From Faculty and Staff
College faculty often play an influential role in the hiring process by introducing current students to former students and other professional contacts. Ideally, students will deliberately nurture relationships with faculty over the four years of college so that faculty referrals will be a natural outgrowth of a close personal bond.