Although a small percentage of soon-to-be college graduates will go into their senior year knowing that they have a job waiting for them in May, the majority of us will inevitably be stuck in the “senior year limbo” at one point or another. That limbo is second semester when it’s still too early to apply to jobs, but the prodding questions from friends and family have already begun. There’s not a more dreaded question for seniors than “What are your plans for after graduation?” when they don’t have an answer yet.
Luckily collegiettes, there are ways to quell the stress that comes from this helpless feeling. Below are tips, tricks and the best ways to keep busy and increase your chances of finding that perfect post-grad job.
One of the most valuable resources for soon-to-be-graduates is personal and professional contacts. Your boss from that internship two summers ago, your aunt who works in Manhattan, your Intro to Business professor—they’re all people who have connections that could help in your job search. “Circle back with all of your internship and professional contacts. Let them know you are graduating soon and that you’d love their advice,” advises Lauren Berger, CEO of InternQueen.com.
Send a quick check-in email to your old coworkers and employers letting them know that you’re graduating soon and ask that if they hear of any opportunities in the future, to keep you in mind. Another great resource for reconnecting is LinkedIn. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, set one up following HC’s tips (check out the links below!) and start expanding your online network of connections.
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Linkedin Etiquette
Using LinkedIn to Find Jobs or Internships
- Everything You Need to Know About How to Use LinkedIn
While you can’t control when or if you’ll have an interview with your dream company, you can set up informational interviews with industry insiders and professionals whom you admire. The purpose of an informational interview is “to ask advice and insight” explains Northeastern University’s Career Services. “All of this information can help you make appropriate career decisions, find information about specific opportunities, and market yourself more effectively when kicking off a job search.”
Doesn’t get much better than networking, speaking with industry professionals and gaining valuable insight, does it? The only obstacle is figuring out whom you’d like to reach out to. “There are many resources to find contacts—family, friends, neighbors, current and former employers, university professors and staff, social acquaintances, and online resources like LinkedIn,” says Laura Lane, Assistant Director of Career Services at UNC Chapel Hill. And although informational interviews are not for asking for a job, “80 percent of jobs are via word-of-mouth”—it never hurts to get your name out there!
Review Your Resume
“Make sure your resume is ready to go,” urges Lane. Although we all want to think that we’re experts at resume-writing, sometimes the best insight comes from having a new set of eyes look everything over. Most university career services offices hold workshops and one-on-one meetings to review students’ resumes and even invite employers in to hold resume workshops.
In addition to career services, utilize your network that you’ve built through reconnecting and informational interviews. Have someone within the industry that you’re applying to take a look at your resume as they’re the best source of insight into what recruiters in that particular industry look for.
Research, research, and more research…
While you’re waiting in limbo, one of the best uses of your time is to get a jump-start on researching everything from industries, to companies, to people. “Students can use their time to research companies and occupational titles. Most employers hire on an as-needed basis, so use the time wisely to figure out where you want to work when the opportunities arise,” says Lane.
Rick Gillis, a job search expert, advises looking into companies to determine which firms you want to pursue. “You might really think you want to work for ABC Company but when you start doing simple research, you learn stuff about them you don’t care for or don’t want to be associated with, i.e., their lack of environmental concerns.” By using your time to list out companies that you’re interested in, it’ll be a lot easier to monitor their job postings as time goes on.
So you’ve started reconnecting, networking and speaking with industry-insiders—that’s great! As you have all of these new conversations, it’s important to keep track of all of the people you meet so that you can keep up correspondence throughout your job search. A great resource for staying organized is Excel or a Google Doc spreadsheet if you’re an avid Gmail user.
Set up a worksheet with the contact information of people you’ve spoken with, people who you’d like to reach out to and companies that you’re interested in. Having a document like this will be a huge help in organizing your job search and contacts!
The Waiting Game
Waiting to figure out where you’ll be after graduation isn’t fun. While your friends in finance are lining up positions six-months ahead of time, you may not get an offer until finals week—or even later. The trick is to not let those prodding questions from friends and family discourage you. That great job is out there and by using your time in “limbo” to prepare yourself, your chances of landing it will go through the roof. Network, interview and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. As Berger reminds us, “you are a student and people will sit down with you and speak with you.” So take advantage of this while you still can!
Good luck and happy job-hunting!
Lauren Berger, CEO of InternQueen.com
Rick Gillis, job search expert
Laura Lane, UNC Assistant Director of Career Services
Northeastern University Career Services