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Grad year and your career

September 28, 2016 — 

If you’re in your final year of university, you have a lot of things on your grad year to-do list: hand in your last paper, present that big project, finish your very last final exam… You’re also probably hoping to land a job. If that’s the case, you have one more critical thing to do before you walk across the stage at graduation, and it can’t wait: start your job search.

  1. Start now. Seriously. It might feel like you have a very long year ahead of you before you need to worry about your job search, but that isn’t true. You should begin looking for work at least 6 months in advance. This means your job search starts today. It often takes time to come across that right opportunity and to land a job offer, so the sooner you start, the better. Think of how great it would feel to enter your final exams knowing you have a position already lined up. If you wait, you might miss an amazing opportunity. The federal government, for example, is already starting the annual search for new grads. Post-Secondary Recruitment (PSR) begins September 21st and ends on October 13th: find more details here. Career Services is also posting between 10 and 30 jobs daily on our careerCONNECT job posting board.
  1. Know what you’re looking for. It’s not enough to type your major into and hope a job you like will be in the results. You may not know it, but you’re qualified to work in a multitude of areas that on the surface may seem unrelated to your studies. If you’re not sure about possible job titles or a sector you’d like to work in, you should think about doing some career planning. A great way to start this process is to talk to a career consultant during Drop-In Career Planning. We can discuss your interests, personality and goals to help you identify possible career paths, maybe even some you’ve never heard of! If you’re considering additional education, we can also talk about options and the best ways to reach your career goals.
  1. Inventory your skills. You do have skills, I promise. Lots of them. Think about everything you’ve done up until this point: coursework, part-time jobs, volunteering, committee work, co-curricular activities. In school, you’ve written papers (written communication skills), taken part in group projects (teamwork skills), and given presentations (public speaking skills). And while you may think your part-time customer service job was unrelated to your future career, your experience has actually helped you build skills in everything from cash management to conflict resolution. Check your registration history on Aurora or old resumés for a refresher and make a list of all that you’ve done. The Skills Matching worksheet on page 10 of our Job Search Workbook will get you thinking about your skills.
  1. You have more connections than you think. Networking is a key piece of any successful job search, but sometimes it’s also the most intimidating. That’s why it can be helpful to think about who you already know and how they can help you in your job search. Consider previous and current colleagues, family friends, former classmates, fellow volunteers, or your acquaintances from hobbies, community groups and religious organizations. Ignite your network. Let people know that you’re looking for work and be specific. You never know who your current friends might be able to introduce you to. If you’re hoping for a full-time job at an organization where you already work or volunteer, let your manager know and see how they can help you reach your goals. If you feel like your existing network isn’t reaching as far as it needs to, venture beyond it. Step 4 in our Job Search Workbook guides you through this process.
  1. Polish up your marketing materials. A well-written cover letter and resumé, tailored specifically to each job is a must. You are going to be tempted to make just one and use it to apply to every job you hear about. Every staff member at Career Services will tell you this doesn’t work. A hiring manager will compare your resumé to the job description and in less than 30 seconds, decide if you’ve demonstrated the skills to make it to an interview. Our online Resumé and Cover Letter Workbooks will give you the tips you need to get started. If you need more help, the Resumé Learning Centre is there for you with additional resources and support.
  1. Stay positive and celebrate yourself. You’re almost done your degree: that’s impressive! Sometimes the job search process is straightforward. Other times it can be a bit tricky. You do have a challenge ahead of you, but you also have the tools to be successful. If you need a cheerleader or some advice on next steps, drop in and talk to a career consultant. All of your hard work has brought you closer and closer to your career goals, and we’re here to help you achieve them!

There are many ways to look for work. To help make your search more effective we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks in one easy place. Check out our Job Search Workbook for helpful hints to land your first full-time position. You’re worth the investment!


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