College Scoops is always reaching out and connecting with professionals so they can share their expertise and advice with our community. As many college students are in the midst of their summer internships, we invited Jason Vallozzi to provide tips and advice on how to secure a full-time offer or land your next internship. Jason has worked in college admissions, talent acquisition, and college and career counseling for over fifteen years.
Did you know that the countdown toward your career launch is ticking? (Yes, even if you will be a college freshman this fall!)
Sequencing the right steps to develop a plan for career success can feel daunting, especially when the path also looks different for every student. You cannot simply copy what your friends are doing because you likely have different career aspirations.
Don’t start sweating yet. You can get ready for your future career and make this semester count. Check out these tips to get your career ready for takeoff.
Tip 1: Make Your Résumé Look Professional
Skip the template — it won’t cut it. A good recruiter can spot a template quickly. Templates often limit the customization and personalization needed to craft a compelling résumé. Even more concerning, some templates contain those old-fashioned objective statements.
Did you know that putting an objective statement at the top of your résumé makes you look outdated? Trust me, a company won’t hire you based on your objective statement. The company only wants to know what kind of value you will bring to the position. Your résumé should convey demonstrated successes and abilities related to the position and why they should hire you over your peers.
Pro tip: You don’t want to pull an all-nighter to write your résumé — a hiring manager will know you did that right away. Schedule time to write your résumé when you do your best work.
Tip 2: Check Over Your Cover Letter
Think you don’t need a cover letter? Think again.
Cover letters provide the necessary information to give you a competitive edge. Cover letters should not look like carbon copies of your résumé; they should introduce completely new information. You should creatively and articulately demonstrate your connection to the job, company, and why you will excel in the position.
Learn some key attributes of an effective cover letter:
- Attention-getting opening
- Focuses on accomplishments
- Demonstrates your connection to the position and the company
- Concision (a few short paragraphs)
- Effective call-to-action closing
Overall, cover letters should engage a prospective employer and keep his or her attention.
Tip 3: Review Your Contact Information
Now that you have your résumé and cover letter looking sharp, make sure you convey a professional image when recruiters call you. Is your voicemail set up? Does it have a professional greeting? Is your voicemail full? One of the biggest frustrations for recruiters is when they want to speak with an applicant and they cannot leave a voicemail.
Does your email address set a professional tone? If not, get another email address immediately. Also, I encourage all clients to check their spam folders a couple of times per week, especially when job searching. It is amazing the amount of job-related emails that can get caught in a spam filter!
Tip 4: Get Branded
You need to create a professional brand early on in college that identifies you as a person employers will want to hire. Personal branding for students helps you separate yourself from thousands of other college graduates, some of whom do not even understand what branding means. This can give you a major edge and it offers a huge strategic asset.
Your personal brand tells people what you want them to know about you. You will also have a better understanding of your strengths and direction as a prospective employee.
Tip 5: Do a Self Social Media Audit
Want to know a powerful secret from a recruiter I know? She said, “We check social media accounts. I’ve learned a lot about candidates from the digital footprints they leave on social media.”
Yikes. Just think about what would happen if an employer decided to follow your Snapchat account. You might want to think twice before you snap those party pictures. Even Instagram or Facebook stories that disappear in 24 hours can be saved indefinitely with a simple screenshot.
Before you head back to campus, review all the active social media accounts you have created. If you have dormant accounts, close them. You want to review all of your posts and comments you have posted. Immediately delete anything questionable!
Tip 6: Boost Your LinkedIn Profile
In my opinion, LinkedIn represents one of the most underutilized career tools for college students. Not having a profile sends a red flag to potential employers that your lackluster profile means you are not serious about your career launch.
LinkedIn offers more than just jobs. It also offers access to over 700 million professionals on its platform. You can connect with the vice president of human resources, hiring managers, or future coworkers. Always personalize each connection request! Doing so shows forethought and effort.
LinkedIn can also help you understand the career path certain professionals took to reach their current position. You may also learn how you compare to employees in similar entry-level positions.
Develop a LinkedIn profile and create a robust, descriptive profile as soon as possible. Include your phone number and email address in your profile contact information. You want to ensure that connections and recruiters can contact you!
Tip 7: Hone Your Interview Skills
Interviewing for internships with top employers requires a different skill set than most college students have been exposed to through part-time work. Most students overestimate their abilities to interview for professional positions. Don’t wait to discover that you need interviewing help after you burn a few important interviews.
Positions with top employers that provide 401(k) matches, paid health insurance, and the highest entry-level salaries require exceptional interviewing skills. Learn the top 10 job interview secrets that get you the job.
Tip 8: Listen to On-Campus Speakers
I always feel envious when I hear about all the amazing speakers my college clients can choose to listen to each semester. Attend at least two campus speakers per semester. These can change the trajectory of your career launch and can even connect you to opportunities and people in the speakers’ industries. Many of these campus speakers also have a LinkedIn profile. Stay in touch with them!
Tip 9: Join a Professional Association
Joining one or two professional associations can change the trajectory of your career launch. Some professional associations even have a discounted student membership rate. Numerous professional associations even have an online career center with posted positions.
One of the most vital skills to career launch involves your ability to network. The networking connections you get through an association membership could make all the difference in helping you land your next opportunity. Professional associations provide year-round networking opportunities, from golf outings to holiday mixers.
Tip 10: Contact Alumni from Your College
You need to get connected to your college’s alumni office! Alumni love helping and hiring graduates from their alma maters whenever possible. Contact the student liaison in the alumni office at your college. They should be able to provide you with some names of alumni who would enjoy helping you out.
Check out alumni newsletters. Past alumni newsletters provide a wealth of information and include active members and alumni success stories.
Bonus tip: You can search for people by the university they attended on LinkedIn. This may offer another outlet to network with alumni in a desired major or city you want to live in after you graduate.
Tip 11: Build Relationships with Your Professors
Professors want to get to know their students, but many students never contact them or make it a point to visit during office hours. Understanding your professors and their professional backgrounds. You never know when you may need a professor to write a letter of recommendation for a job opportunity or even a grad school application.
Bonus tip: Professors appreciate and know students who arrive early to class and sit in the front row of their class!
Need Help with Your Career Launch?
Whoa — that’s a lot, right?
We can help. Campus to Career Crossroads can work with you (no matter where you live!) to help you launch a successful career. Our one-on-one career services professionals customize a plan based on your goals and strengths. Working with an experienced professional saves you time, money, and stress.