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Want to graduate with a job? Start planning early

career prep

School is back in session for many students already and for others, it will be in only a matter of weeks. While it’s only the start of the year and you probably haven’t delved into the job search just yet, the earlier you start planning, the better prepared you’ll be. Not only are you giving yourself a head start over other students, you will also be arming yourself with skills that could set you apart. Here are a few things you can do to get your planning off to an early start.

Spend some time volunteering.

According to a Deloitte survey of 202 HR executives, skilled volunteer work – such as helping a nonprofit with its finances – makes job applicants look appealing to hiring managers. For recent graduates, skilled volunteer work could set them apart from other students competing for the same job openings, yet less than half of college seniors say they have considered volunteering as a way to develop their skills and increase their hiring chances.

Apparently, recruiters and job seekers aren’t on the same page about the value of volunteering. While 80% of HR executives said that they would be more likely to hire a graduate with skilled volunteer experience, job seekers still shy away from the idea. The study found that 12.6% of Americans 20-24 years old are unemployed, but according to a 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, less than 20% of them volunteer, the lowest percentage of any age group.

Not sure what to major in? Consider jobs that will be in demand for the next few decades.

Many students start school unsure of what they want to major in or which jobs hope to have, and that’s okay. Your first couple months or even years are about developing your goals, finding out what you are good at, and exploring what you enjoy. To increase your chances of getting jobs upon graduating, make sure to understand what the job market will look like over the next 10 or so years. Make sure to understand which skills you have and see which of these careers you could fit into.

A recent article in the Washington Post highlighted how many job openings are expected over the next few years based on estimates made by the US Department of Labor. According to the results, careers in business, computer science, and engineering look promising for the next decade.

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Start building your résumé and your brand.

This building process takes time and so the earlier you start, the better. In a recent article, we mentioned how the majority of recruiters now utilize LinkedIn as a resource when hiring. It’s a great avenue to build your brand, connections, and recommendations. The more recommendations and endorsements you have, the more people consider you a thought leader and expert. This is what recruiters look for nowadays beyond the résumé.

In addition to your online brand, make sure you are building one offline as well. Make sure you do a couple of internships through your college and higher education years. Internships are a great way to get one’s foot in the door and set up long-term opportunities. Like we shared in a recent article on the blog, about 70% of jobs are filled internally. That means your best chance (especially as a soon-to-be graduate) of obtaining a full-time offer begins with getting your foot in the door with an internship. It’s also a great way to build relationships with people who call the shots and can vouch for you down the road.

Looking for more advice on starting your career prep early? Speak to a Career Advisor.

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