First of all, congratulations! You have completed your educational goal and you’re on to the next phase. So how do you get your career started?
First, let me ask you a couple questions.
- Does your college have a career center? If so, take advantage of it. You should be able to continue to use it for at least another semester.
- Did you work while you were in college? Then you might need to update you resume to pick out the responsibilities focused on your new career. Obviously, no one is suggesting that you promote yourself to executive chef if you made fries for McDonalds. However, generic job descriptions are not helpful. Tailor your student employment to your career. Did you work with budgets? Did you sell? Find an angle that connects your prior responsibilities with your new career.
- Did you volunteer or intern? Be sure to include significant class projects, volunteer experience, and internships that directly relate to the position you are seeking.
As you can see, you will need to customize your resume to each and every position you apply. If you are unsure of what type of position you are interested in, do some informational interviewing. You can also seek out an internship that gives you a survey of each area of your future career.
Beyond the traditional career launch advice, you also must plan for your health and wellness. Explore options with your mentors in your career. You may find that some types of jobs like freelancing or government have a schedule you prefer. Freelancing allows you to control your schedule but you need to hustle to have a steady income. A job with regular hours and great benefits can help you balance your workday and health.
There are many resources to help you launch your career. In 2018, there is a lot of hiring and it is a job-seeker’s market. But if you have a condition like depression or anxiety, AD/HD or autism, low vision, deafness, or mobility, you may struggle to overcome people’s impressions and get hired. It will probably take longer even in a tight job market. You will need support to stay positive. Be sure to arrange that support and do the following to improve your options:
- Network and Informational Interviews. Be sure to approach networking the positive way. Connect to build long-term relationships and get career guidance. Many people are willing to meet to offer you guidance and mentoring. Learn all you can when you still have time for coffee!
- LinkedIn. For goodness’ sake, you’re no longer a student! Change your title to the position you are hoping to get. Be sure to tell recruiters that you are currently looking. Also, update your profile to include your current work. If you don’t have a current, part-time job, get one. Or freelance or start your own (legitimate) gig. It’s easier to get hired if you are working.
- Connecting on LinkedIn. Yes, I thought it important enough to talk about making connections. Connecting is not about sending your resume unsolicited to someone. It is about learning about the industry, what your connection does, helping out with a great article, following thought leaders, and becoming more connected. Ask a connection to meet for coffee and hear their story (not yours). Be sure to keep it short, focused on them, and thank them for their time. People will get to know how amazing you are in person.
- Niche job boards. While 80% of jobs are not listed (which is why you need to network), job boards in your industry will focus your search. Apply to those positions that you are qualified.
- University Career Centers. I cannot say enough about career centers on campus. Often, they remain free after graduation. While you may have missed the interview schedule for that company you wanted, they come every year and you will have another chance. Take advantage of the free interview coaching, resume writing skills, personal branding workshops and other seminars.
- Consider a job in government. Government jobs get a bad reputation. While certain aspects move slow, they are often stable during economic downturns. They offer great benefits and flexible schedules. You can move from the local to state to federal level as you career advances (and back) to take advantage of promotions. Pay often rivals the private sector. The offer preferential hiring for veterans and an alternative application for job seekers living with disabilities.
Do I need accommodations?
Being in college makes a unique demand on students. You may have received academic accommodations. Job-related accommodations are usually dependent on your needs in your position. Focus on taking responsibility for doing what you can first. Do you need to structure your day? Use a planning calendar. Do you need access to a restroom? In most professional workplaces, you can just go when you need to do so. It’s actually easier to self-accommodate in a professional environment since your employer trusts you to get your work done.
Try working for a while to see what support you need to be successful. You may wish to delay discussing accommodations on the job until you are offered a position.
Some conditions require accommodations so that you can perform your job. The Job Action Network or JAN offers a lot of examples of accommodations for every condition. If you need accommodations for the application or interview process, by all means, ask! Be sure to advocate for your needs.
Many conditions can be managed by “self-accommodating” such as using a time management app or organizing your work area and schedule to best fit your needs. You can find resources to guide you based on your condition.
Take the next steps
Finding a job can be a full-time job in itself. Maintain a balance during the search and meet regularly with your support folks. Be sure to have fun and keep living life while you are looking. Good health habits will make your career launch a success.
Consider other ways to establish a basic income such as part-time work in your field or temp work. Be willing to do a variety of things to find job leads both in person and online.
You may benefit from some career counseling to get you started and coach you through the launch. Call 832.777.7464 for a free phone consultation.
You will find that position.