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Top 5 ways to prepare for the job hunt

Students leaving Heritage Hall.

Trying to secure a job after graduation can seem like a daunting task. So how can someone fresh out of school maximize their chances of getting a job — and not just any job, but one that will lead to a successful career?

The answer is to start doing the leg work as soon as possible. Don't wait until after graduation to start working on your resumé or building the skills that employers are looking for in potential candidates.

Here are the top five ways you can get a head start on launching your career...

1. Stop by the Student Employment and Career Centre

The Student Employment and Career Centre offers year-round workshops that cover everything from Resumé and Cover Letter Writing, to Interview Strategies, to Job Hunting in the Digital Age. The centre also offers individual consultations with career development specialists for resumé reviews and practice interviews, and Career Connector, which has a job board with hundreds of postings advertising positions both on and off campus.

Tip: Learn how to sign up for Career ConnectorAccess the job board and upload your resumé. You can also view a schedule of all the workshops, which you can register for through the site.

2. Start working on your resumé today

Waiting to build a resumé until you're ready to apply for a job, may be too late! It takes time to develop a good one, especially if you want to stand out. Start by learning the basics at a Resumé and Cover Letter Writing workshop, then make an appointment with a career development specialist for some initial feedback. You can come back for another review as many times as you need.

Tip: Start reviewing job postings in your industryThis will help you understand what employers are looking for, identify key industry words and important areas to highlight on your resumé.

3. Clean up your act — your online act

Your online presence can say as much about you as your resumé — it can make or break your chances of getting hired. While it's OK to show a bit of personality by posting a funny photo or tweet, make sure you don't post anything inappropriate that would give a company a reason not to hire you. If you're ever unsure, err on the side of caution and keep it off the internet altogether.

Tip: Don't have a LinkedIn profile? Get one.98% of companies now use LinkedIn for recruiting. Sign up for the 'Developing Your LinkedIn Profile' workshop offered by the Student Employment and Career Centre.

4. Get involved

Develop the skills and qualities employers are looking for while you're in school. These include effective time management and organizational skills, the ability to work well both independently and as part of a team, good communication skills, and being adaptable to change.

Try volunteering, playing sports, and participating in clubs. Not only will you be better prepared for the workplace, but you'll also grow your network — relationships can open the doors to some great opportunities in the future.

Tip: Don't forget to add to your resumé.Volunteer, sports and club activities are an excellent addition, to make you an appealing candidate to employers who are seeking well-rounded people to join their team.

5. Build your network

Some say up to 80% of jobs are never posted. Sometimes it's about who you know, not what you know. Begin growing your network right on campus by building lasting relationships with instructors, mentors, and classmates. Meet industry professionals through events, information sessions, and career fairs like our bi-annual Career Directions. Research the companies that are attending ahead of time so you can have meaningful conversations with their recruiters during the fair.

Tip: Nervous about networking, or not sure how to start? Sign up for the Networking Strategies workshop.You'll learn about the importance of an ‘Elevator Speech' and methods on how to establish your network. The centre also offers a 'Career Directions Preparation' workshop that will help you make a great impression on any recruiters you meet.

Follow these tips and by the time you cross the stage at graduation, you'll be equipped with a shining resumé and the skills you need to land that dream job! To get you started, we've provided a plan.

Bonus: your plan

Here's an outline to help you prepare for the job hunt while you're in school. Just remember that this is a guide only. Depending on your program, you may have more or less time to check these off your list!

First semester

• Start working on your resumé
• Reach out to the Student Employment and Career Centre
• Sign up for Career Connector and attend some workshops
• Start building your LinkedIn profile and network
• Read job postings in your industry to find out what employers are looking for

Second semester

• Look for a summer, part-time or practicum position
• Have someone review your resumé and cover letter
• Sign up for a practice interview through the Student Employment and Career Centre
• Practice your elevator speech with friends and classmates

Third semester

• Update your resumé with any experience you've gained
• Start practicing your networking skills
• Become active in your program's club and expand your reach into industry
• Attend Career Directions and practice speaking to employers
• Follow companies you're interested in on social media to familiarize yourself with their values so you can find ways to demonstrate them in your school, work, volunteering, and professional communications

Fourth semester

• Update your resumé again with all the experience and skills you've gained during your program
• Reach out to the network you've established to let them know you're getting close to graduation, and ask if they can refer you
• Attend Career Directions again, and this time apply for jobs
• Practice your interviewing skills and continue to grow your network