Building a Profile
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?
Your On-Line Presence
Making an excellent and professional first impression on-line is absolutely necessary in the job search process. Many employers find their future employees through entirely on-line job searches, using either LinkedIn or online job posting sites (e.g. Indeed.ca). The interview doesn't usually happen until the future employer has had at least some positive impression of you through what they find on-line. So what do you need to do?
- Clean up your social media. 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.
- Use social media to your advantage. Check out this great resource guide from the University of Waterloo.
- Build a dynamic and complete LinkedIn profile, 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.
- Join LinkedIn interest groups and ASK questions! 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.
- Develop an e-Portfolio to showcase your work and highlight your interests and your ability to reflect meaningfully on what you can contribute to a team or organization. See Step 4: Career Resources @ UFV for more ideas on developing your e-Portfolio. And experiment with building your own professional e-Portfolio on one of many free portfolio building websites.
- Make sure to have an on-line presence. Some students and graduates don't like using social media and do not have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But NOT having a presence on-line can be almost as problematic as not having a very good one. At the bare minimum, stay connected on LinkedIn. Twitter is 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.
Your On-Paper Presence
Paper resumes 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 resume-building strategies and get more suggestions on how to improve your paper-based presentation.
Keep in mind as well that your paper resume does not replace, but instead complements, your on-line presence (above).
Your In-Person 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:
Join professional associations, such as ECO Canada or the BCIA, and take advantage of student rates when their available.
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 that you will need when go out on 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.
Your After-the-Meeting Presence
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. It may seem that in the age of on-line communications that business cards are 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 their 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.