As graduation looms in the heads of college seniors each quarter, so does the fear and anticipation of what post-graduation life will bring.
Here are a few tips to assist college graduates in landing their dream job in the competitive job market.
1. Polish your resume
Make sure your résumé is easy to read and simple to understand. Try to keep it to one page, but add an additional page with references as needed. Employers often are filtering through hundreds of résumés and have little time to see each one. Simplicity is the key. Make a unique layout and avoid using a template from Microsoft Word. Use bullets such as education, specialized skills and work experience to help the employer navigate the résumé efficiently. Dr. Tara Perry, professor of communication at Western, suggests having an extra pair of eyes read the résumé once it's complete, to look for grammatical errors.
Perry, who teaches a communication class in professional development, suggests tailoring each résumé to the particular organization in which you are applying, rather than photocopying one. She says job hunters must demonstrate they are qualified to fit a particular job's mission.
2. Do an internship
For students in any major, internships are the key to getting real-world experience and making connections. Internships help job seekers get a foot in the door.
Perry says internships provide a preview of the company and help you decide if you would like to work in that environment.
"Internships give you the ability to take what you are learning in class and apply it to real-life situations," she says.
3. Attend a career fair
Each quarter, Western sponsors a career fair during which employers from around the state hunt for new employees. These employers are actively seeking college graduates and are eager to hire enthusiastic seniors. The career fair can be an opportunity to network with future employers. Don't forget to dress professionally and bring plenty of résumés.
4. Visit Western's career
Western offers a great on-campus resource located in Old Main 280. The Career Services Center organizes afternoon workshops on topics such as résumé writing and interview techniques. Taking some of these workshops gives you an edge among other job seekers.
The center offers a candidate-referral service, in which job hunters may be matched with jobs in their specified area. The center also has a counseling service, which helps seniors who need direction and career-planning help.
Take advantage of the opportunity to join a listserver with the center, which sends weekly e-mails of jobs available in each field.
5. Prepare for the job interview
For any job interview, doing the homework is important. Don't go in blind. Know about the company, its mission and what it stands for. This will show you really want the job.
Western career center counselor Kergie Garcia encourages all students to stop by the center and do a mock interview. Peer advisers lead and videotape real-life interview situations with students, then go over their performance. Students can participate in the mock interview anytime during the quarter.
Garcia suggests rehearsing your interview with a friend and going over possible interview questions. This is how you can get first-hand experience in interviewing and possible questions you may face. You will be able to sell yourself in your interview if you can discuss your strengths and weaknesses.
"Be prepared for the behavioral interview questions, where they may give you a situation and ask you how you may handle it," Garcia says. "How you handled situations in the past is a good indicator for the employer about how you will handle them in the future."
Garcia suggests having three or four questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview. This shows you are prepared and really want to work for the company.
These are all elements that are important in today's job market. So, be bold and stand out. Good luck getting the job of your dreams.