It’s never too soon for college seniors to start thinking about the 2013 job market. Most college seniors are extremely fluent in social media, but probably mainly on Facebook. LinkedIn should be considered the place where a college senior can truly differentiate himself or herself. In addition to looking for a paying job, the goal should be to also consider internships (paid or unpaid) in the college student’s field of choice.

As Semester Ends – Network:

As the fall semester is ending, this is a great time for students to start networking with teachers, advisors and their alumni association; some of them may even be on LinkedIn. As students return for winter break, they should take advantage of their time to meet with people in their fields of choice as well as join existing networking groups.

For many of us it’s important to remember that it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. Students should also consider joining professional associations which might offer them a student discount.

Students should also contact professionals in their areas of study. Don’t ask them for a job, but ask them for advice. Ask them this very question:

What should I be doing to better prepare myself to add value to an employer before I begin my search?

Know What You Want to Do:

Students – know what you want to do and go after that rather than applying to every open position you’re even remotely qualified for. Somebody that has a passion in a certain area and understands how their skills fit in with the company’s goals is far more attractive than somebody with a degree who just needs a paycheck to start paying down their student loans.

Ask people you’re networking with: “What’s the biggest problem you or your company is facing?” That’s how you start to uncover problems that you might be able to solve. Then you can offer to work on a project that leads to full-time employment. With some people you might not find a problem you can solve for their organization. Still, you’ll learn more about what’s happening in the world. Look for patterns and trends, and envision where your expertise could be useful.

Seek out mentors and surround yourself with brilliant people. Learn as much as you can from people that are far smarter and far more experienced than you are.

Remember that almost every employer will check you out on Google and LinkedIn and Facebook. Make sure you also Google yourself and see what comes up.

Build relationships and care about people over a product and you will find your successes. Remember you may need to be flexible, respect the experience and gain more knowledge. And remember there is no such thing as dream job and every job can be a dream job if you want.

Top 10 Tips

These next 10 tips came from the mother of two graduates and should be shared:

  1. Join the clubs on campus in your field and attend especially when there is an industry speaker. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. Ask for the speaker’s card.
  2. Follow up with a nice email with everyone you meet.
  3. Make use of the college placement center.
  4. Invest in some business cards that clearly state what you are a student in and when you graduate (e.g. Accounting, 2013 graduate) etc. Leave them with anyone you can.
  5. Call your parents friends and old neighbors.
  6. Send thank you notes to anyone who talks to you. They are remembered and your address, phone or email address is a link to pass along
  7. Get a professional sounding email address. I won’t be impressed with “BeerLover1989@aol.com”!
  8. Take your surname off your Facebook account; purge the pictures and fix the privacy settings.
  9. Distinguish yourself in some good way: volunteer.
  10. Write those thank you notes even when you don’t get the job.

Don’t be fooled by the time of year – networking is a 24/7 skill and the sooner you start the better.

As parents of college students or if we know others who are parents, we should take an active role in mentoring as well.

Have a great day!

Kenneth Lang is a social media analyst who has worked with job seekers and small business owners on how to best maximize using LinkedIn for specific goals. He’s worked for large and small companies, most recently as Online Project Management Support for The New York Times in New York City on the International version of the newspaper – The International Herald Tribune.  Kenneth is co-founder of Steps To Success which offers individual and group LinkedIn sessions for business owners.

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