When you start on your career search, how will you stand out from the crowd? What unique skills or experiences will be able to identify?
How will you be able to get your personality across, as well as convey that you have those soft skills (critical thinking, punctuality, teamwork) that are so hard to demonstrate on paper?
Making an excellent and professional first impression online is absolutely necessary in the job search process.
Many employers find their future employees entirely through online job searches, using either LinkedIn or online job posting sites (e.g. Indeed.ca).
An interview doesn't usually happen until your future employer has had at least some positive impression of you through what they find online. So what do you need to do?
If they can search for it, they can find it.
Larger firms use third-party agencies to do social media searches on prospective employees. The last thing they want is to hire someone with a penchant for doing and saying things that can embarrass the company.
Cleaning up doesn't mean erasing your personality, however. Employers are as interested as your friends are in seeing that you're an interesting and engaging person.
Check out this great resource guide from the University of Waterloo.
And keep it up to date. This is true even after you've landed that first job. Your LinkedIn profile should indicate your professional goals.
Being an active participant on LinkedIn is much more likely to make a positive and lasting impression with someone who may be interested in hiring you.
LinkedIn provides a quick 'how to' guide on this and other strategies.
Use e-portfolios to showcase your work and highlight your interests and your ability to reflect meaningfully on what you can contribute to a team or organization.
Consider taking a portfolio building course (e.g. CMNS 200) or experiment with free e-portfolio building websites.
Check out this great e-portfolio resources site at the University of Waterloo.
Some students and graduates don't like using social media and do not have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But NOT having a presence online can be almost as problematic as not having an unprofessional one.
At the bare minimum, stay connected on LinkedIn.
Twitter is also a good site for those who are looking for a simpler form of social media to use, and it's a useful site for staying on top of professional organizations and trends.
Paper résumés still matter, and this means editing, editing, editing.
Make sure the document is free of errors and cleanly presented and easy to read. Arrange to meet with a UFV Career Centre staff member to review your résumé-building strategies and get more suggestions on how to improve your paper-based presentation.
Keep in mind as well that your paper résumé does not replace, but instead complements, your online presence.
Are you comfortable approaching people in the industry in which you want to work? Are you ready for that interview? What kind of impression do you make?
Even before you begin the active work search process, take advantage of as many opportunities as you can to network with professionals and potential employers. This can be at:
At professional and networking events, dress appropriately (business casual is the norm). Be proactive in reaching out to say 'hello' and ask questions.
Over time, you'll build more confidence which will help you in interviews.
If you're normally shy or introverted, and find making new contacts uncomfortable, find out in advance how others in your shoes have approached these types of events.
Just type in "Introvert Networking" into any search engine, and you'll find a rich trove of advice.
Make an appointment with the UFV Career Centre to get tips on how to best prepare for an interview.
Will a future employer remember you once you've left the room? A few quick and simple strategies can help leave a lasting impression.
First, carry business cards. In the age of online communications, business cards may seem old-fashioned. But they are still widely used, and for good reason.
Business cards leave a tangible reminder of your meeting, and whenever that person picks up your card again, they're reminded of your conversation.
Basic business cards are inexpensive, but experiment with different designs if you're feeling creative and don't mind paying a bit more.
Second, follow up on your meeting. This isn't to suggest you place daily phone calls. But a short email or note of thanks and appreciation for the employer's time is good practice.
Last, always talk positively about the potential employer, even if you didn't get the job.
They may call you back at a later date. But that won't happen if you post your frustrations to your Facebook page.