What they didn’t tell me in college about finding a job

Essential wisdom for your job search

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By: Lisa Wicker
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Most people know that they want to get a job after they graduate, but there aren’t really classes that teach you how to get that post-college dream job. Lucky for you, we've got a few tips to share through the hunt for a new job.

Finding a job will take time
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that April is the best time to start looking for after-graduation employment. Start chatting with your college career placement office in the fall regarding summer internships or full-time opportunities. Plan ahead, explore your options, and give yourself plenty of time for the process.

It’s a competitive world out there
Remember that you are going up against a lot of other qualified candidates for those coveted job openings. Know what differentiates you from the masses. Commit this to memory and be prepared to sell it to a potential employer.

Network (before and after graduation)
You’re not going to get to know people by playing Angry Birds all day. Go to your college’s Beta Alpha Psi meetings, attend professional networking events (maybe your state society), and get to know your college professors. And be sure to ask advice and learn from others who have gone before you – why re-live their mistakes if you don’t have to?

What happens on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook
When in doubt, remove it. Many employers now check online social network profiles before making an offer, so ask yourself if you’d feel comfortable with you new boss seeing your Facebook or Twitter page. Frat party pictures are not part of the professional image that you want to convey.

It’s also a good idea to get a LinkedIn account while you’re still a student. (So good that we have awhole article about it).

First impressions count – a lot
Always be polite and professional to everyone from the receptionist to the HR representative… and even that random guy on the elevator. You never know who someone is or how they could help - or hurt - you later. For all you know, the random elevator man could be your interviewer or the receptionist may push the decision in your favor because she thought you were nice.

Practice makes perfect
Put on your fancy interview outfit and have a trusted advisor or friend do a mock interview with you. You can even use ThisWayToCPA’s Interview Simulator for extra practice. And please make sure you nail the “tell me about yourself” question, because you should really know the answer to that one.

Don’t forget to interview them, too
Take a look around the office and keep in mind that this is your potential work environment for the next several years. Could you see your potential boss as a mentor? Can you picture yourself here making a meaningful contribution? If not, think twice about the job. You don’t want to be miserable for 1/3 of your waking hours every day.

While looking for a job may not be the most fun thing you’ve ever done, all the work will be worth it when you sign that offer letter. Good luck!

Lisa Wicker is the Manager of Chapter Services with Beta Alpha Psi. She’s got no fewer than three degrees, including a master’s-level diplomas, and is working on a fourth.
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