Job Hunting Tips for your New Year's Resolutions - Career Centers

In this tough job market, job seekers are eagerly looking for job hunting tips that will make their job search easier and hopefully faster.  In my previous posts in this series, I provided job hunting tips that you can use for a reactive job search (i.e. browsing job postings online).  I also provided job hunting tips that you can integrate into your proactive job search (i.e. when pursuing specific employers you are interested in).  Overall, leveraging proactive job search strategies will help you learn and compete for the 70% of jobs that are never advertised (and therefore filled through connections).

Speaking about connections, one of the best connections you can leverage when you are looking for a job is your university or college career center.  If you are a student from an undergraduate or a graduate program, it is likely that your career center will have a wide selection of services to help you transition from campus to career.  Furthermore, and contrary to popular belief, recruiting through your career center occurs year round.  Instead, many employers will continue conducting interviews for full-time positions in the spring.  They might not come to campus to do so, but they will advertise positions through your career center and are likely to interview candidates over the phone or video conference.  Therefore, as a current student, be sure to leverage your career center this spring.  The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), one of the largest professional associations for career services professionals and college recruiters conducted a job outlook survey for 2011 which indicated that many recruiters anticipate to hire 13% more college graduates this year than last year.  This trend is encouraging, and knowing that many of these recruiters will hire through your career center should be enough motivation for you to visit your career center website and find out more about how to best partner with a career counselor to define your goals and best compete for career opportunities that align with your goals.

If you have graduated, you might think that your university has no services available that can help you.  However, your alma mater is in fact very likely to offer a number of valuable tools and resources that will help you with your job search.  Given the high cost of higher education, you have paid the price to get these resources, so why not take advantage of them?  Here are a few job hunting tips that you can use when leveraging your university (and its career center):

Job Hunting Tip #1 - Leverage your alumni services -  Many universities offer a range of services to their alumni.  Of course, they organize cocktail parties and class reunions both for their alumni to stay connected and for the alumni services staff to keep track of alumni that could become potential donors.  As part of their services to their alumni, many universities offer a number of career related services.  First, some universities offer a job board on which alumni and recruiters interested in your university's graduates will post their opportunities.  Many of these opportunities are first advertised through universities and then on more general job boards, so looking first at your university's job board for alumni and current students might become a great advantage for you on the job market.  Second, some universities offer career coaching services to their alumni.  These career coaching services are quite varied depending on the university and can include general career guidance, self-assessments, career exploration, as well as resume and interview preparation.  Some of these services might be free or available at a low cost to alumni.  Call your career center or visit your alma mater website to find out what services and resources are available to you.  Third, your university is likely to maintain an alumni directory that, as an alum, you can access.  Conducting searches on this directory by major, class year or other criteria might help you explore career options and learn about the myriad of career options open to people with the major you graduated with.

Job Hunting Tip #2 - Connect with alumni online - Of course, in the internet age, social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and twitter make it a lot easier to identify alumni from your university that have built a career in your function or industry of interest.  The new LinkedIn Career Explorer, launched this fall, can be of tremendous help for you to find other alumni that have built careers based on interests similar to yours.  Beyond this new tool, joining your university's LinkedIn group(s) to connect with new people that you share an alma mater with might lead to interesting connections and possible future mentors.

Job Hunting Tip #3 - Show up at events - Whether you live close by or not to your university, check to find out if they have local events that you can attend.  Whether it is a day of service or an opportunity to have a drink at a new hot spot in town, you never know what can happen when you engage with people from your alma mater.  In addition, these events are sometimes organized with a career focus or with the participation of career services staff.  I have witnessed and heard countless success stories about alumni who showed up at alumni events without really knowing what would happen and left with new insights and new contacts that were later helpful to their careers.  All of these success stories have one thing in common:  All these alumni when to alumni events with one specific goal - enjoying the process of meeting new people and finding ways to be helpful to these new contacts.  Making the event about being of help to others will not only put the pressure off of you and will help you enjoy the event even more.

Whether you are a current student or an alum, leveraging the online or in-person resources offered through your alma mater career center or getting involved through your local alumni chapter can help you to feel energized about your career and job search.  Furthermore, through each interaction, you are likely to learn more about new job hunting tips that will certainly make your job search easier and faster.  I look forward to reading your job hunting tips through the comment box below!

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