By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. —Benjamin Franklin
When you’re still in school, it can be tempting to think of your career as something that’s way off in the distant future, and, therefore, something you don't really need to think about until you're nearing graduation. The truth is, in today's competitive job market, unless you’re taking all the necessary steps to prepare yourself now, your dream job could end up being someone else’s dream job.
But don’t panic. Although the competition for good jobs is fierce, there are steps you can take today to make yourself more marketable and appealing to employers when the time comes. The following is a list of five ways you can make the most of your time now so that you’ll be ready once you have your diploma in hand.
- Know yourself and what you have to offer.
Understanding your unique gifts, talents, and passions can go a long way in helping you maximize your hiring potential. Know your personal brand and how to communicate it to others. It will not only boost your self-confidence, but it will also help you stand apart from the competition.
Tip: The Kiersey Temperament Sorter is a great place to start.
- Build a compelling, Google-able web presence.
Did you know that 79% of hiring managers and job recruiters Google potential candidates? That’s why it’s so important that you have quality online content and that it can be easily found. Review books that are relevant to your personal brand or area of study and then blog about them. Create on-brand, detailed profiles on professional networking websites such as LinkedIn, Spoke, Twitter, and others. Google also has a way for you to build your profile at https://profiles.google.com/me.
Tip: Commenting on other people’s blog posts is another way to increase your Google-ability.
- Become a LinkedIn ninja!
The paper resume is passé. Today your LinkedIn profile is where people go when they want to learn about your qualifications. Dedicate some serious time to creating a killer LinkedIn profile that will attract employers and showcase your unique skills. Use it to connect with movers and shakers and build strong, authentic relationships with them. Share interesting and informative content in your LinkedIn feed that will position you as a thought leader in your field of choice.
Tip: YouTube has tons of videos on making the most of this powerful social media platform.
- Don’t underestimate the power of internships and job-shadowing.
You can learn a lot in college, as long as you take it seriously and use your time wisely. That said, there’s nothing quite like hands-on learning. Experiential learning, i.e., learning by doing, allows you to take what you learn in the classroom and apply it to real-world situations. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of as many internship and/or job-shadowing opportunities as you can while you’re still in school. Getting your hands dirty now can help you hit the ground running when you land that first job after college.
Tip: LinkedIn’s Student Jobs platform is a great place to begin your internship search.
- Do something extraordinary.
Developing a strong personal brand, being Google-icious, building a killer LinkedIn profile, and having real-world experience will all go a long way in maximizing your potential come job-searching time. But if you really want to set yourself apart, if you really want to get noticed, do something remarkable, outstanding, stupendous! Write a book. Start an online business. Film a documentary. Find a common problem and come up with a solution. Do something that shows you’re a doer; that you’re imaginative and innovative; that demonstrates that good enough just isn’t good enough for you!
Tip: Believe in yourself—you can do it!