By Jenna Danner
You’ve finished your classes and met all the requirements for graduation. Now what? I had many questions as I began my job-hunting journey with plans to land a job before graduation.
- When should college students begin looking for jobs?
- How and when should students begin to put together a resume, cover letter, portfolio, and references?
- What is the importance of an internship or part-time job?
- Where should students begin to look for job postings?
Linda G. Peacock-Landrum, Director of Career Services offered me some advice.
When should prospective graduates begin to look for jobs?
It depends. “On average, most people would recommend that you pick your ideal start date and you count back a minimum of six months. That’s minimally the time frame you can begin looking for employment opportunities,” said Linda.
Ideally, when a student is two semesters away from graduating, they should start to become aware of opportunities that are listed and posted. According to Monster.com, “it’s never too soon [to start your job search] if you expand the idea to include more future-oriented — and usually more effective — strategies.” This research includes networking, researching your field, and looking at job postings.
How should a resume and cover letter be formatted?
Linda recommends avoiding online templates when constructing a resume. “The structure of online templates are often difficult to edit and modify because everybody’s situation and circumstances are unique,” Linda said. They can
be used as a reference regarding formatting. For a grad, it is recommended that resumes are kept to one page to highlight recent experiences.
Cover letters should also remain one page in length. “Cover letters serve to provide additional insights not typically provided via a resume or an application itself,” said Linda. Employers will often use cover letters to evaluate writing skills.
What is a portfolio? And should I have one?
A portfolio is a compilation of best works throughout your college career. “A portfolio is not typically all inclusive of everything you’ve done over the course of your four years or possibly, say, your working career. It’s really a selection of what’s best and really what is tailored and most appropriate for that opportunity,” said Linda.
Portfolios can be made in two different formats – digital or print. They would most often be used during a job interview to showcase your work throughout your college career. Digital portfolios can be made available on Google Docs, which makes projects easy to share or posted on LinkedIn. When making a LinkedIn account, you can add a profile section which will allow you to upload links to other media like podcasts, projects or presentations, in addition to listing skills or certifications you may have.
Digital portfolios may seem ideal, but keep in mind that technological glitches may make your portfolio challenging to access or share.
Where should I be looking for jobs?
Through Career Services, University of Wisconsin- Green Bay (UWGB), offers a job-recruitment website called Phoenix Recruitment Online (PRO). This resource primarily offers jobs and internships in Wisconsin, but there are nation-wide listings as well, Linda explains. “You should always check out any related professional society tied to your field,” said Linda.
The Department of Workforce Development may be another source for job openings. “Every state offers some sort of job listing system that is typically available at no cost to the employers in the state… it’s a resource that should not be ignored,” said Linda. LinkedIn is another valuable resource which provides not only job postings, but extra information on a business and networking opportunities.
How do I gather references?
Finding references should begin as early as your first year of college. These can be accumulated by networking during your college career.
“What is ultimately 100% critical is that that you never, ever, ever, list a reference that you have not had a conversation with in-person and asked them to officially be a reference,” said Linda.
An article from Forbes advises, “stay in touch with lots of people, especially those who are not in your immediate circle, including professors and teaching assistants you may have had three semesters ago. Let everyone know you’re looking for work.” And most importantly, ask.
Start your search prior to graduation. Day to day life can get in the way of job searching as the semester winds down. Go to events and job fairs. Opportunities are often missed because students don’t begin their search early enough.
Need additional assistance with a job search or more personalized advice? Appointments and links for further help are available through UWGB’s Career Services website.
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