4 things graduating students can do now to land a job before summer

It's no secret that students and families are increasingly focused on the return they get from their investment in higher education. And they're measuring that return by their employment outcomes: if students achieve their goals in the job market, they feel the cost of tuition is worth it. And vice versa.

With only a few months left in the academic year, it might seem too late for graduating students to change their odds of having a job upon graduation. But actually, students still have many steps they can take over the next four months to improve their outcomes in May. Based on recent news articles and our archives, we've rounded up several ideas below.

Idea 1: Add the word "digital" to their resumes

A 2017 study by Burning Glass Technologies found that when job seekers who add the word "digital" to their resumes—or otherwise demonstrate digital competencies—they double the number of job openings they qualify for.

Burning Glass identified five skills in particular that have the biggest effect:

  1. Social media;
  2. Graphic design;
  3. Computer programming;
  4. IT networking and support; and
  5. Data analysis and management.

Students can carefully review their academic, volunteer, and work history to ensure that their resumes reflect any skills they picked up in these areas.

How one university incorporated professional skills into their English program—and nearly doubled enrollment

Idea 2: Build a sample of their work

Hiring managers want to see a concrete example of something students have done. One graduate got a job as a web engineer at Giphy in part because a recruiter noticed the project he showcased on his LinkedIn profile.

For students who don't have a digital experience or project to showcase, four months is enough time to complete a resume-enhancing project on a volunteer or externship basis. Another possibility is to incorporate a new skill into a project they're already working on for a class.

Co-curricular involvement improves post-grad outcomes. Here's how to get students to care.

Idea 3: Practice soft skills

Soft skills are not only highly in demand, but they can also help protect graduates from automation and other future shifts in the labor market. But employers say just 40% of recent graduates have strong collaboration skills, suggesting that students who can demonstrate examples of their soft skills could have an advantage when it comes to getting a job.

The most common recommendation for building and demonstrating soft skills is to work on team projects. If students don't have any courses this term that expose them to team projects, they could try to join one through volunteering, student organizations, or externships.

3 ways colleges help students improve their soft skills

Idea 4: Expand their network

According to one LinkedIn estimate, 85% of all jobs are filled via networking. But college seniors don't feel prepared to network successfully, according to other research.

Networking doesn't have to be intimidating or slimy. Leadership coaches recommend approaching networking as a sincere effort to build long-lasting professional relationships filled with generosity. The key is to focus on what you can do for others, not on what they can do for you.

Students don't need to rely entirely on career office-sponsored networking events. Networking can also happen through student organizations, at professional conferences in their chosen field, or on social media.

Intentional networking might be particularly important for low-income and first-generation students, who often lack the off-campus networks that give other students a leg up in their job searches.

How to host more successful networking events


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