This time of year, just about everyone knows someone who is graduating from high school, college or grad school. Whether it’s your child, a friend’s niece or the young person you’ve been mentoring, chances are, he or she is gearing up for some serious job hunting this summer.
The good news is that last month’s job report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a brighter picture of the job market, and the even better news is that companies are beginning to hire again. Still, the competition out there is stiff and the whole job hunting process can seem overwhelming, especially to a young person. But, searching for a job, finding that professional niche and embarking on a new career can also be a very exciting time in a soon-to-be young professional’s life, as long as he or she is prepared.
To assist the young job seekers in your life get ready for their job search, we’ve put together some tips to help them polish up a resume, ace that interview and stand out from the crowd:
1. Network, Network, Network
As a member of the National Association of Professional Women, you know how important your network is to you. You’ve no doubt made many connections online at napw.com and at Local Chapter meetings and perhaps at the recent NAPW National Networking Conference in New York City. Why not put that network to work for your student? Bring her along to one of your Local Chapter meetings or events. Introduce him or her to a member who shares a similar career interest. Even if that member’s company isn’t hiring, she may know of one that is. In turn, offer to do what you can to help other young job seekers who members may know. You can also enroll in the NAPW Mentorship Program at napw.com to connect with aspiring young professionals who are looking for career guidance.
2. Visit the Career Center
Most colleges and universities have a career center whose sole function is to help prepare students for professional life. From helping with resume and cover-letter writing, to conducting mock job interviews or providing ways to network and connect with alumni and potential employers, career centers provide an enormous amount of resources and tools to help students in their job search. Encourage your student to visit the career center at their school to take advantage of all the department’s invaluable services it offers to student job seekers.
3. Resume 101
If he or she doesn’t already have one, make sure your graduating student compiles a resume that is concise, well-written and most importantly, typo-free. Unless the student has an unusual amount of experience, most experts suggest the resume be only a single page. Offer to proofread and edit your student’s resume and/or have him or her ask a friend or relative who has a flair for writing for their help. Young job seekers should also consider having a few different versions of their resume that target different industries and/or positions. Stress, too, the importance of well-constructed cover letters and sending thank you emails or notes.
4. Review Business Etiquette
From how to address a potential employer to what to wear to an interview, going over basic business etiquette will go far in helping to prepare a young job seeker. Suggest a shopping trip together to choose proper professional attire. Remind your student to take a few extra copies of his/her resume and work samples (if appropriate) with them to an interview. Whether it’s through email, snail mail or a phone call, stress the importance of following up with a prompt thank you, not just after an interview, but after meeting someone who may have given him helpful career advice. If they haven’t already done it, encourage your job seeker to make sure his or her online reputation is professional, that includes deleting any posts, photos or blogs he or she wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.
5. Calm those Interview Jitters
Great, your student has finally landed his or her first interview. As excited as they may be, students are no doubt nervous about the prospect of the impending meeting. Assure them that this is normal and that even the most seasoned professional will admit interviewing for a job goes hand-in-hand with sweaty palms and jittery nerves. Let them know the best defense is preparedness. Encourage your student to read up on the company, and if possible, the person(s) he or she will be meeting before the day of the interview. Offer to role play in mock interviews where you can review answers to “typical” interview questions and practice a firm handshake. And, even if the interview doesn’t go as well as anticipated, remind your student that every experience has some value and that we often learn much from our failures.
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