Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A pre-graduation job search action plan

By Robert Half International

Graduating from college soon? As the "real world" looms, keep in mind these words of wisdom from Thomas Edison: "Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning."

While a lucky few from the Class of 2012 will secure employment opportunities with minimal effort, the majority of graduates will need to work hard to launch their careers. Use your remaining time in school to your advantage by following these 10 job-search steps:

1. Keep it clear and concise. Some recent graduates try to compensate for a lack of experience by filling their résumés with overly verbose language. Others bump up the font size or triple-space the document to make it appear more impressive. Skip the typographical tricks and put away the thesaurus. A short and sweet résumé written in plain English is better than one brimming with extraneous phrases and fancy five-dollar words.

2. Fine-tune your résumé. The résumé remains the go-to document for employers, so make sure it's clearly organized and error free. While professors might have overlooked a typo in research papers, hiring managers may not be as forgiving. Proofread diligently and ask detail-oriented classmates, mentors and counselors in the career services department to check your work for both content and clarity.

3. Adapt your pitch. Once you have a rock-solid résumé to work from, customize it for each company you contact. It may sound like a pain, but this step is critical. Research the company, pay close attention to the words the company uses in the job posting, and incorporate these terms as appropriate. Tweak your pitch by highlighting strengths most relevant to that specific opportunity. For one role, you might play up the niche software skills you honed during an internship, while for another open position you might emphasize your communication and collaboration skills.

4. Cover your bases. Think writing cover letters is old school? Think again. In a Robert Half survey, 91 percent of employers interviewed said cover letters are valuable when evaluating job applicants. Your cover letter should demonstrate your knowledge of the company and expand upon your most pertinent selling points. Think of it like an introduction to your résumé. And, at just two to three paragraphs in length, a cover letter can be fairly quick to craft. There's no reason to skip it.

5. Polish your online image. Operate under the assumption that employers will search the Web for additional information about you. Clean up any digital debris floating around Facebook, Twitter or blogs. That means deleting questionable content and checking your privacy settings. Also, it's increasingly important to have a presence on LinkedIn. Students and recent college graduates represent the site's fastest-growing demographic.

Read Tips 6 - 10 and the complete MSN article

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