If you’re graduating from college in May, now is the perfect time to start your job hunt. Although your ceremony may seem far away, trends show that March, April and May are some of the best months to apply for open positions. June also has some good options. July and August can be especially challenging with company holidays and employee PTO.
Below are four strategies to be proactive about the seasonality of your job hunt process and how to “spring into more jobs” as a future college graduate:
1. BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
As you start your search, be diligent about creating and updating your professional brand. One way to do this is by having an online portfolio. Curate content by adding your name and desired title clearly at the top with a tab for “work samples” from capstone classes or internships. Other navigation can include a “blog” or “passion project” for a unique way to show off your personality.
Likewise, create cohesion with your LinkedIn profile by using the same background color for your website and LinkedIn image banner. If you’re new to the app, be sure to do your homework on other ways to be strategic and optimize your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is where internal and external recruiters and hiring managers go to find potential employees.
If you feel that LinkedIn doesn’t showcase your talents best, a popular alternative many Gen-Zers are using is a “TikTok Resume.”
CAUTION: Remember, though, that most hiring managers and recruiters give resumes a 6-8 second review, so chances are slim that they will view your video resume on the first round. It may come in handy if they are deciding whether to bring you in for an in-person interview.
2. BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR FINANCES
Throughout college, many students may not have the time, resources or background knowledge to practice personal money management habits, leaving you overwhelmed by student loan or high-interest rate credit card debt as you start a career. Statistics have even shown that 1 in 4 Americans have student loan debt, with the average student loan debt amount being $37,172. The first thing to do is to talk to any existing touchpoints you have in your network that are experts in these topics, such as a financial resource center at your university.
Now might be the time for you to establish 1, 5 and 10 year financial and career aspirations. When creating a road map to achieve each of these, important factors might be your desired future salary range and how that might increase over time with promotions. For example, if your 5 year aspiration includes going from renting an apartment to becoming a home-owner, learn the average home costs in your ideal city of employment and how much house you can afford.
If it feels too overwhelming to establish those time-bound aspirations, just start thinking about what you hope your life will look like when you’re in your 30s. Establishing a set of good financial habits is a great foundation for reaching that intention.
3. BE CLEAR YET FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR WANTS
After improving your personal brand, compile a list of what you’re looking for out of this process. I advocate developing a Must Have List of things you
“must have” in a job to be happy – skills you will use, role you will play, impact you will have, physical environment in which you will work, culture and colleagues, and compensation.
It’s also helpful to have a list of non-negotiables like benefit programs, overtime policies and a potential start date.
Keep in mind questions to ask before accepting any job, such as what reputation the company has in the local community, larger industry and among previous and present employees. Conversations with your parents/guardians or older alumni working professionally can reveal relevant points too.
Another smart way to focus on what you should prioritize is through online Plus Minus Interesting (PMI) charts. These free templates can let you compare positive, negative and interesting points about hypothetical moves, potential internships or possible full-time or part-time positions.
4. BE PERSONAL WITH PROSPECTS
As you start your search, remember to create a strong connection with all potential employers. Get to know them! For the interview, complete environmental scanning on social media channels, employee profiles and company websites. Make notes of your panelists’ or recruiters’ names and preferred personal pronouns to use in verbal and written communication. An accessible list of questions about their own journey is useful to keep the conversation going about themselves.
Lastly, don’t forget about being personal after the interview. A great way to do this is with digital thank you notes. In a simple email, either in the same or new email chain, take five minutes to thank them for their time and express one takeaway they gave you.
Remember, people hire people they know and like and think they will grow to trust. So do your part to show those you’ve met how you will show up in the workplace.
Throughout this process, remember to give yourself grace. Remaining optimistic will not only benefit your mental health throughout this process, but it’ll show through to potential employers.