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Three Steps Towards a Career

College to Career
My career search has now lasted three months, plus the few building block months prior to graduation. I may still be unemployed, but I learn more with each portfolio revision or interview scored. Below are a few tips that I’ve gathered from my adviser and some extensive reading on how to land a great career.

#1 Industry-Relevant Experience

First off, you need experience in the field that you actually want to work. Although I had years of working under my belt, more than the average college student because I went back for my second degree at age 26, I had to gain relevant experience to my field. That meant volunteering, finding student work, and joining groups, all specifically geared toward gaining industry-relevant experience. My field is Marketing/Strategic Communications, so I found positions that let me promote organizations or write content for them.

#2 Build Resume and Portfolio, Update Frequently

With each new experience, update your resume and portfolio. In fact, you should constantly be revising your portfolio. I’ve found that the more I update LinkedIn, the more views I get. With the increased attention, you’ll want to make sure recruiters or potential employers get the information you want them to see.

The department career adviser at my now alma mater – University of Wisconsin – gave me examples of resumes that make your experiences pop, rather than focusing on your job title. Instead of listing only your jobs with a general list of duties under each, list them under an “Experience Heading.” Here are a few examples:

Look on the job posting to find the employer's biggest experience requirements and work them into your headlines. Just make sure you have experience that matches your headlines.

Look on the job posting to find the employer’s biggest experience requirements and work them into your headlines. Just make sure you have experience that matches your headlines.

I used this method on my LinkedIn account. I also now have three resumes, one for each field I am interested in, that highlight my experiences as “Media Relations,” “Marketing,” “Brand Management,” etc. This makes it much easier for employers to translate your experience into what they need for the open position.

#3 You’re a Brand. Market Yourself!

Now that you have some experience and a great resume and portfolio, market yourself! Network! Tell your past employers and supervisors that you’re looking for work and in what industry, so they can recommend you or keep an eye out. Your friends and former instructors can be useful connections, too.

Don’t forget that you are building a brand identity, too. Keep your social media cleaned up. Broadcast your persona in the same tone as a professional in your sought-after career. I’ve even been continuing to learn more about my industry, including skills I didn’t get at school. I practice all of my skills and share industry-related articles, which I’m hoping will continue to increase my chances at getting hired.

My results so far only include an increase in interviews as well as LinkedIn views, but hey, that’s one step closer to landing a job! Every interview teaches me what skills employers want and what I still need to improve.


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