Preparing for Your Job Search
Remember when you were a little kid and everyone would ask you, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" It's interesting that in Western society we typically stop asking that question of our children after the age of 10 or so. So our last response was usually in the doctor/lawyer/President-of-the-U.S. category. For many, the subject of career selection doesn't again arise until college graduation (and an uncertain future thereafter) is staring them in the face.
The truth is that many students have stumbled aimlessly through high school and college taking classes merely because the subject matter sounds interesting. We then establish a college major centered around these classes. When we get close to graduation, we anxiously hope that there is someone out there that is interested in what we have to offer (although we're probably still not exactly sure what that is). If this doesn't sound like you, if you planned your entire academic career with a specific end product in mind, if you have fully researched and mapped out your career, if you know your target market and are fully prepared for it--good for you! But you are the exception (and will undoubtedly have a definite advantage over your competition). Unfortunately, many college students have less of a ready answer to the "What do you want to do?" question than most 10-year-olds. And it's not the kind of question you want to be hearing from Aunt Mabel on graduation day. Especially if you don't have a good answer.
Please note: if you are not able to answer the "What do you want to do?" question, do yourself a big favor--take a step back from the "I gotta find a job" hype, and go seek advice and counsel from your career center or with your professors or advisors within your major. Know what you want to do before you go out trying to find it. And in seeking out your dream job, seek out a job you will love. There are far too many people in today's work world who are grinding away at work they detest just to earn the paycheck. Do what you love and the paycheck will become secondary.
The first step of job search prep is to have a planned path to follow in seeking your new career. If you have no plan for where you are going, any road will take you there. Don't start off your work life in a blind or random direction. Don't do a "walkabout" (á la Crocodile Dundee) in your career and life. It just doesn't work!
This column is written toward organizing and managing job search for college students. It is designed to benefit all who read it, since it provides information that will form the foundation of a successful job search. But when you're ready to begin square one of your job search, make sure you're at square one, not square zero. Know what you're searching for before you begin your search.
Everyone (from freshmen to Seniors to grad students) will find information of value in this column. We'll dig into the hardcore realities of resumes, cover letters, research, networking, job fairs, Internet job search, interviewing, job offers, and negotiation. And the college students who are the most successful in their job search are typically those who are the best prepared. So if you are still in the first years of your college career, do your homework in advance--clip this column each week and save it in a file labeled "Jobs." That way you'll have a variety of topics there to refer to when you need them. And if you are in your final year, make sure you know what you are searching for first, then use this column as your insider's guide to the job market.
My background: I'm an active Hiring Manager, currently making hiring decisions every day for Keane, Inc., the largest Information Technology Consulting Firm in the U.S. Previous experience with IBM and DPI. I'll give it to you straight from the viewpoint of the Hiring Manager who sits on the other side of the desk. No ideology or philosophy. Just straight facts from someone who works on the inside of the hiring process.
I look forward to serving your job search needs!