Around this time of year, my inbox and social media feeds are filled with eager, talented college graduates who want to know the secrets of breaking into the world of business or entrepreneurship. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, below are five actionable steps you should be taking right this second to land the job of your dreams. Ask yourself if the answer is a screaming, “yes!” to each question below. If it’s not, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work!
- Do you have a LinkedIn page? Is it filled out completely? Does your LinkedIn page identically match your resume? Be sure to check that dates, titles and company names match. Nothing says “I’m not sure about this one” than an employer who is looking at two pieces of information (your resume and your LinkedIn) asking themselves which one is the correct one. Do you have at least one person speaking to your character in the references section? Before leaving school, find a trusted teacher, TA or counselor who can write you a recommendation on LinkedIn. Starting off with public references can help set you apart from others who may not have taken the time.
- Do you have a mentor at school? Do you have one person at school that you could call on if needed? If not, find that person before you leave campus. Having at least one person who knows you personally and has a rapport with you is essential. As you search for work, companies will ask for references. Showing that your reference is an accredited individual in their field will help demonstrate your passion for surrounding yourself with high achievers. Additionally, this individual will have a wealth of knowledge and can help point you in the direction of resources or connections to explore while determining your career path.
- Do you tell everyone your big dreams? We have been taught to be humble and shy regarding our big dreams. Disregard this notion and start telling anyone and everyone the industry or career you hope to get into! Those closest to you not only want you to achieve your wildest dreams but, if they can, they want to help you reach them. With social platforms, the world is more connected than ever, giving the phrase “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” an entirely new meaning. You have no idea whose cousin’s friend’s wife’s sister works at the exact place you’ve always dreamed of. Tell everyone those big dreams and ask that they tell others as well; never underestimate the power of serendipity.
- Have you reached out to former bosses? Many students discount old internships, but these can be a goldmine of insider knowledge. People within a company or industry often know of job openings before they are open to the public. Calling on these previous contacts to inquire about openings is essential to finding out before the general public. Additionally, you can ask them to keep you in mind for any openings at their company or others that they might hear about around the water cooler.
- Have you created an asking train? The most important question you can ask anyone is, “Do you know someone?” Whether you are calling a boss from your old internship, connecting with a college counselor or speaking with a mentor, you need to create what I call an “asking train.” Ask each person you speak with to connect you to one other person who they think you would benefit from speaking with. Before you know it, the three phone numbers you started with turn into six, which in turn become nine, and before long, you’re off and running with a Rolodex! People instinctively want to help eager and bright college graduates. Show them your gratitude and accept their help! Don’t let the fear of rejection (“What if they don’t recommend someone to me?”) stop you, and truly start living by the saying, “It never hurts to ask.”