Graduate and Start Your Career in the Same Week

College graduates don’t need much convincing that a career search in this economy will be challenging. The classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015 will not only be competing with members of their own classes for the jobs they want, but they will find strong competition from members of the classes of 2011 and 2012 who are not yet in the positions they want, and from a host of twenty- and early thirty-somethings who have both work experience and educational credentials.

Research over the past few years indicates that anywhere from 10% to 15% of students planning to enter the workforce upon graduation have secured jobs prior to their commencement. The vast majority of these students received offers of employment from the companies with whom they interned.

What about the 85-plus % of graduates who may not have secured employment prior to graduation? Research shows that about two thirds of this group won’t begin looking for employment in earnest until after graduation. Most will learn the hard way that their career search will take much, much longer than they expect…upwards of a year or more. Some will have to settle for a position less than ideal or something in a field unrelated to their area of interest.

Oh, and did I mention the nit-picky detail of the student’s college loans? School loans generally require repayment to begin about six months following graduation, placing more pressure on the student to find employment.

Against this backdrop, let’s take a look at some practical steps every college students can take to have a position of choice waiting for them prior to graduation day. Career search involves a number of preparatory steps, so it is never too early in the student’s schooling to begin preparing.

Personal Career Preparedness. From the first day of classes until a few months prior to graduation, every student can learn about what employers expect from their employees, including proper etiquette, attire and professionalism in the workplace. Great places to learn and practice skills essential to workplace success include:

  • Volunteer opportunities (including charitable and campus organizations)
  • Part-time employment

Time should be spent developing a personal, professional brand and professional online presence. Aggressively begin building a professional network.

Career Research. As the student progresses towards the mid-point of their studies, it is time to begin identifying potential career paths. Tips to do this include:

  • Utilize a vocational interest assessment to identify potential career fit.
  • Learn to use the Internet to research potential employers and positions.
  • Join professional groups (often free for students) affiliated with the student’s major.
  • Actively seek internship opportunities for in-semester and between-semester work in order to build relevant skills and a professional network.

At the midpoint of studies, take advantage of on-campus and community career fairs to get an idea of what is involved. Begin building a database of relevant skills with examples of how they have been utilized. Participate in on-campus interviewing. Frequent your institution’s career center. Validate your career aspirations with advisors from faculty and career services. Learn how to identify relevant job opportunities in the field of interest.

Career Search Preparation. Between twelve and six months from graduation complete these steps:

  • Finalize online professional profiles.
  • Build templates (either on a pc or online) for resume, cover letters, career search management, online applications, and references.
  • Create a professional paper resume and post the base resume on appropriate career search sites.
  • Assemble both an online and hard copy portfolio to showcase skills.
  • Contact management in the companies in which you interned to explore opportunities following you graduation.

Within six months of graduation, take these steps:

  • Apply online to positions of interest.
  • Inform network contacts of your career search and email them a pdf of your resume.
  • Customize your resume and online postings to align with posted position for which you are applying.
  • Go on interviews – you need all the practice you can get.

Bottom Line: Take control of your career search early in your education. Execute these steps effectively and you will be well on your way towards having a job in hand before your diploma is placed there!

Boyer Management Group works with colleges, universities, career and trade schools, government agencies and career coaches to help them become more effective in connecting their graduates to careers. From our highly regarded career search curriculum From Classroom to Career to the world’s first assessment that measures what someone knows about conducting an effective career search, we help our clients achieve greater success by helping people get a better job faster. Statistics cited in this article are from research conducted by Boyer Management Group beginning in 2010 and is available upon request. To learn more about how we can help you, your institution, organization, or career coaching practice please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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