7 Vital Tips for Improving Your Job Prospects While You’re Still in College

As you work toward your degree, you should also have an eye on your career goals after graduation.How to improve your job prospects while you're still in college

While your degree is vital to your future job prospects, there are plenty of other things you can do to make yourself more attractive to employers.

It takes time and effort to position yourself as a strong candidate after you earn your degree, but getting a head start while you’re in school and carving out time to bolster your prospects can pay dividends down the road.

Let’s take a look at seven tips to help you land the right job after you graduate.

Networking

Networking is a great way to discover new job opportunities.

A good place to start would be your instructor. He or she may have connections in the field, ideas for groups you can join or even a job opening.

Talk with your classmates, as well. They are likely on the same track as you, and connecting with others who will be in your industry could prove valuable after graduation.

Joining a civic group—the Lions Club, Rotary, etc.—is another way to expand your network. Likewise, military associations—your local VFW or American Legion, for example—could also provide opportunities to hear about possible careers.

Internships

Internships are a good way to gain knowledge about your industry, but they can also help you develop connections with people in the field.

Some programs require an internship as part of the curriculum. Take advantage of the opportunity. Ask questions. Talk with employees. They could provide helpful suggestions about your future career path.

If nothing else, an internship can show hiring managers that you have some experience.

Summer Jobs in Your Field

Landing a summer job can be about more than making money. It is also a good way to get an “in” with professionals in your field.

Getting a job related to your program means you’ll be working in the same circles you want to eventually join and also give you a better sense of the types of careers available.

Not sure where to turn? Check out 6 Cool Summer Jobs for College Students.

Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are simply meetings with a professional in your field.

The best part is the informal nature of the discussion: you’re not trying to get a specific job, you just want to learn more about the opportunities available. You’ll be more relaxed and feel more comfortable asking broad questions (while also practicing your interviewing skills).

You’re looking for information and advice. Ask what they would do in your shoes. Ask about job satisfaction and where the industry is going. You may learn about careers you didn’t even know existed.

Bonus: If you wow your interviewer, you could be in line for an opening after you graduate.

Create an Online Profile

Building a simple website about you and your skills can give hiring managers a one-stop shop that tells them about you.

This can be especially beneficial for those in creative fields. Did you do an interesting video for class? Develop cool graphic designs as part of your capstone project? Put it on the site.

Your site could also house a working resume, links to your social media accounts, and a message about your abilities and where you want to go with your career. You should also take time to check out sites like LinkedIn and Google+ for groups related to your field of study.

Remember, however, that employers today often check up on potential workers’ social media profiles, so be careful about what you post and check your privacy settings.

Related: Companies Use Social Media to Recruit, Research Potential Employees

Volunteering

In addition to doing good things for your community, volunteering allows you to meet people you may not have known otherwise.Tips for improving your job prospects while you're still in college

Volunteering can function as both networking and resume building. You’ll be able to make connections and demonstrate to employers that you care.

Always Improving

Don’t wait until after you graduate to improve yourself as a candidate.

Many colleges have a career services department that will help you with:

  • Resume writing
  • Interviewing skills
  • Your “elevator pitch”
  • Developing references
  • Cover letters
  • Thank you letters

You should take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses and find other ways to make yourself more marketable.  

If you’re shy in public settings, joining Toastmasters (which helps people with public speaking) could be beneficial. If you think you could use more training in technology, try taking a single course or workshop.

As you work toward your career, know that becoming a great candidate for any job doesn’t begin and end with your degree. It’s an ongoing process.

Make a plan. Start today.