5 Career Planning Tips For College Graduates

by Jacques Sprenger on March 2, 2010

I wish somebody had given me some advice when I first settled in the U.S. I landed here in the early 60’s. Instead, I had to fend for myself during the mini-depression of those days jumping at any opportunity to work. Then, of course, Uncle Sam came visiting (the draft was on) and I spent a few years in uniform hurrying and waiting as is the norm in any army. Whether you are just graduating from high school or college, you are facing the same difficult employment situation and there are a few facts you should know, “ye impatient youngsters.”

career planning tips

5 Career Planning Tips For College Graduates

1. The most important value is not to feel entitled. Just because you came out of a good school doesn’t mean automatic job offers will be piling up in your mail box. The opposite is also true; if you graduated from a regular school that’s not on the excellence map, do not feel that you’ll only get crappy jobs.

2. Focus on one particular skill. When I first arrived in the United States, I had no special ability and my English was suspect at best. As expected, the jobs I encountered were at the lowest level of pay and position, though I was grateful to have one at all. If you jump into the job market with only a general diploma, the same thing will happen to you. Develop one particular skill (we all have one at least) and take additional classes or training, even if you are already working. Some of my high school graduates (I am a teacher) have a knack for all things mechanical, so I advise them to concentrate on one particular area such as aviation, where salaries are higher. Another option is to join the Armed Forces or the National Guard and get a free specialization.

3. Find out what kind of jobs are in demand. Nowadays, there are at least three areas which are booming in the midst of the economic slowdown: health, education and government. You may already know that the Obama administration is pouring tons of money in green industries, in energy, and in the environment. If you have an interest in any of these, find out what the requirements are and start training. According to Yahoo! Finance, the best places to find a job are in metro areas with more than 200,000 inhabitants. As a recent graduate, it would be a lot easier for you to relocate, before you start a family and settle down. And where they have professional jobs, there’s also a myriad of technical jobs which don’t require a college degree. Time to find a career in these top cities?

Where To Start Looking For A Job
Looking to start somewhere? Perhaps these online job resources may help:

  • Job.com: a great resource for local jobs, career advice and other services to help you manage your career and job.
  • Executive Search Online: a leading nationwide job matching service for more experienced executives. Pay levels for these executive jobs are typically higher.
  • Beyond.com: an extensive career network that’s set up as a community of niche sites in various industries.
  • EssayEdge: an essay editing resource for those who need a little help with their college, graduate or other academic admission essays. They help out students seeking to gain admission to the colleges and universities of their choice.
  • ResumeEdge: a resume editing resource for those who need a little help writing a high quality resume and / or cover letter. They are the leading provider of resume writing services online and the chosen resume partner of well-known job sites such as Yahoo! Hot Jobs, CareerJournal and Dice.com.
  • Resume Rabbit: a resume distribution service that submits resumes to top online job sites such as Career Builder, HotJobs, Monster, Dice, etc, as well as job search engines.
  • Snag A Job: an online tool to help you find hourly jobs. This service provides you with access to part-time and full-time hourly jobs.
  • Yahoo Hot Jobs: a popular online job board.
  • GoFreelance: an online community for freelance professionals and companies looking to hire skilled freelance experts. They house thousands of freelance and work-at-home jobs in the US and worldwide.

4. Get information! Once you have zeroed in on the specialized area that you believe fits your skills, find out all you can about that industry. The internet is an excellent source of information, but you might want to talk to somebody you know who works in that area or who has recently retired. That will give you a head start on the competition; believe me, there are hundreds if not thousands of recent graduates who want the same job. Get serious about your search. Companies place a premium on intense and dedicated candidates who do their homework. Such job seekers are likely to be hired even over more qualified people who appear too relaxed.

5. Do not reject low-level positions. If you are offered a low paying entry job in your area of interest, by all means take it! I don’t care if you have to get in as a mail clerk. If you show strong dedication and continue to learn (e.g. via evening classes), your company won’t “waste” your skills or time for very long. Many very successful people who started at the bottom have reached high level executive positions. They’ve worked on studying all there is to know about their business and that’s what makes them so special and valuable.

Now go out there and hit the ground running. Time is money after all!

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