For most college students, graduation can’t come soon enough. This is especially true for young women eager to show the men of the world that they are every bit as capable in their chosen careers. However, in a time when employment rates are at historic lows, snagging a position is easier said than done. On average, bachelor’s-degree-holding young adults job hunt for six months. In male-dominated industries, such as construction and finance, that search can last considerably longer.
According to Kiplinger Editor Janet Bodnar, teenagers have difficulty walking into entry-level opportunities as many experienced candidates vie for positions. But there are things you can do right now to improve your chances of walking the line and then straight through the doors of your dream job.
Scout for prospective jobs once you decide on a major
There is no need to wait until your diploma is in hand to put your feelers out and see what types of jobs are available for people with your degree. Many colleges offer student-run consulting groups to help students in each industry pick the perfect profession. As well, you can check your campus placement office and local job listings monthly to see what’s out there. If you’re not yet ready to apply, at least file away in your mind companies you might like to target later on.
Choose your major wisely
It is not simply enough these days to hold a degree in an open-ended discipline, such as philosophy or liberal arts. In order to secure the highest-paying positions, you must pick your major strategically. Degrees in technology, public relations, and marketing are in high demand. These skills can be used across a breadth of industries, making you more hirable than other candidates.
Network early and network often
Yes, even college students – and in some cases high school students – should have a professional networking profile for use on social media sites, such as LinkedIn. However, while online networking may be most comfortable, you should also join organizations where you can make personal contact with hiring managers and other professionals who can help you get your foot in the door. If you’re getting close to graduation and have a city in mind, it’s a great idea to spend a week or two there, set up shop, and schedule a few interviews in advance. Immersing yourself in a networking community will connect you to a group of knowledgeable industry veterans and create new opportunities and experiences related to your chosen field.
Don’t ignore the power of an internship
Real-world experience in your desired profession goes a long way, especially when coupled with proven academic prowess. When looking at candidates with identical degrees, most hiring managers will grant a coveted interview with those who’ve proven they can perform their desired job.
Work on your soft skills
Soft skills, those that don’t seemingly affect your job, are vital to your overall success. Things such as communication and customer service skills can lead you further down your chosen career path.
Job hunting tips
Before you ever go to your first interview, it is important to polish your face-to-face skills. Go ahead and outfit your wardrobe with a few key pieces, including some classic black pumps, which pair well with any outfit. Make sure you know exactly what the company does and what the role requires. Don’t ask the interviewer questions that you could’ve easily found the answer to on your own. Instead, show a genuine interest in the culture of the company. Speaking of the interviewer, make sure to remember their name(s) – there is nothing more embarrassing than calling your future boss Carol when her name is Cindy. Be polite, courteous, and succinct in your answers. Maintain an air of professionalism at all times…even while sitting in the waiting room. Finally, don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer that you believe you are a strong candidate, that you’re interested in the position, and that you would welcome the opportunity for a second sit down session.
Gloria runs WomenLed.org, which celebrates women’s achievements in the workplace and beyond. She believes that while women have made many advancements toward “shattering the glass ceiling,” there is still much to be done. It is her aim to help increase the number of women-led businesses by educating others about the topic.
All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.