Today’s job market is challenging, and every college student is faced with an uphill climb in order to come out of college with a degree in hand and a full time job. The one thing a college grad wants is a job. Then realism and economic conditions are factored into the picture and they understand having a job waiting for them at graduation is not the norm. In fact, BloombergBusiness reported only 12% had lined up full-time jobs.
“49% of recent U.S. College grads consider themselves underemployed, or in a job that does not require a college degree.” - Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study
Don’t let this get you down. There are ways to enhance your marketability while you are in college and help to increase the percentages of becoming more attractive to prospective companies. Here are a few things that college seniors (and even juniors) can do in order to be one of those students that will start their career with a full time job as soon as they graduate.
Personal Brand 101
Believe it or not, you are a brand, almost like a company, and your reputation matters. What you do, what you say, how you look and interact with others in-person and online really does matter. You control your personal brand and you have the power to make it powerful and engaging or ho-hum and damaging. This means you must cleanup all of your social media profiles to make sure there is NOTHING on them that is distasteful or makes you look like a complete idiot. Yes, HR departments can search and find your online social media profiles, so make sure they are squeaky clean. How do you want your personal reputation and brand to tell the story about you? The answer is completely up to you.
Build Your LinkedIn Profile
Because today’s businesses operate in the digital world, that means the tools they use to research and look for college interns and job candidates are mostly online and with social media. As you probably know, LinkedIn can be a tremendous resource for college students.
39 million students and recent grads are on LinkedIn.
It’s also a robust tool for professionals. That means, the people that will be interviewing you for your internship or for your first full time job are most likely already on LinkedIn. Use it to build your network of potential job prospects, connect with influencers in your chosen field, get involved reading eBooks, blog posts and industry related topics that will help you become more knowledgeable. Additionally, use LinkedIn to build out your online profile so that when HR departments search for you, your resume information is already there for them to see. These are just a few ways LinkedIn will enhance your personal brand and help raise your image to another level.
Internships Make A Huge Difference
Without an internship, your percentages of graduating are slim to none. But let’s take that a step further. You also won’t have anything relevant to put on your resume or on your LinkedIn profile. So how will you find the job you want? – You probably won’t. Here’s the solution; begin looking for internships early in your college career. If you are a junior or senior, it’s best to already have multiple internship experiences on your resume and you can then decide what you like best and return to the company that best suits your skillset for a second internship. These experiences eventually have the highest potential of turning into a full time job.
72% participated in an internship in college - Accenture
Internship programs are designed to give you real-world exposure and experience. They also are designed to build your personal and professional network so that when you are sending out applications for a full time job the second semester of your senior year, you have a good foundation of connections. Internships are real jobs, so you must treat them that way. The companies that hire their interns are the ones that really like the student because they are committed, driven and act professionally.
There is no perfect formula for having a job waiting for you upon graduation. However, if you work on all three of these critical components listed above while you are in college – before your final semester of your senior year, you will be far ahead of the vast majority of college students. Most wait until the very end of college to start thinking like a professional and that’s a mistake you don’t want to make.