You have graduated, the world is your oyster and you are aching to get going. But how do you start? What steps do you need to undertake in order to make it as a professional? There is no real right or wrong answer as it all depends on what you want to do and what kind of personality you have. But it does help to think about the following ten points.
- A resume that packs a punch
Your resume is going to be the first idea any potential recruiter will have of you. How will you make your CV stand out? There are many schools of thought on whether or not a CV should be accompanied by a picture, how a cover letter should be written and how long the actual resume should be. But generally speaking, you want to be as succinct as possible without leaving any of the crucial information off. Remember recruiters get dozens of resumes on their desk each day. To make yours stand out, keep it short and sweet, make it only one file and check your spelling!
- Make use of digital platforms
Once your resume is tweaked to perfection, you’ll want a good online profile. Register with HR and recruitment websites, social-media platforms like LinkedIn and online job platforms like Upwork. Most of these platforms offer a lot of options as to what information you submit. Make sure you exercise the same caution you did with your CV, be succinct. Take enough time to set up your profiles and avoid leaving one of them unfinished as it looks very unprofessional. Remember, recruiters will “Google” you.
- Create content to back up your claims
With your resume and online profiles in the bag, it’s time to put into practice what you can do. The advent of the internet has provided us with so many channels through which we can showcase our skills. Start a blog, keep an online portfolio and upload videos to YouTube. The more content you generate, the more you are showcasing your skills. Recruiters will appreciate that you are backing up your claims with tangible proof.
- Be consistent and present yourself as a brand
We just talked about taking time to tweak your profile and being consistent. This means you may have to clean up your pre-existing social media profiles. If you have an Instagram account documenting your surfer’s exploits or have been tagged at a party with friends on Facebook, it is fine. Just filter out the most unflattering content. Your personality is a big factor in whether or not you will get hired, so let it shine through. A squeaky clean online identity will come across as bland. An honest look into who you are, backed by relevant content you’ve generated, will define you. It will become your brand.
- Never stop learning
Even as a student. You were probably already engaging in extra-curricular activities that added to your skill-set and overall knowledge. If you haven’t yet, look into furthering your knowledge even more through e-learning. We live in a digital age and you are busy building your brand in a digital space, it makes sense to pursue further education digitally as well.
- Network and farm
You have your CV and you’ve developed your online brand through a consistent social media presence and the content you’re creating. You now have all the tools to put yourself out there and network.
Networking is a game of perseverance and consistency. Sign up to online communities that share your professional interests, but also visit recruiters and go to job seminars. Even your e-learning class is a networking opportunity. And don’t forget about your inner network. Talk to your father’s friends, their friends and the friends of their friends. Once you have met the right people, even if they have not been able to help you in this instance, farm and maintain these relationships as they can help you further down the line.
- Internships and volunteering help you gain experience
Sometimes, you just want to get that extra experience to give you a boost. Volunteering to do work in your field or applying for internships at companies you are interested in is well worth your time. At the very least, you now have experience you can add to your CV. More often than not, you will also get a recommendation letter out of it. And if you really excelled, that internship might actually turn into a job. Sometimes, taking a step back to jump further really pays off.
- Prepare for the interview
You’ve done it! Your CV, online activity, networking and farming have landed you an interview. Well done! Just remember that it was only half the battle. The recruiter has shown interest in an idea of who you are, now you’ve got to make sure you embody that idea. Make a good first impression by being presentable. Remember that everything you’ve mentioned on your CV and online profiles must be true. Recruiters are savvy people, they’ll see right through you if you embellished a skill or outright lied about it. Show your passion for the job you are interviewing for but without pandering to the recruiter.
- Research before an interview is important
Research the company or the people you are interviewing for. This does not mean you have to know every intimate detail, but a broad knowledge of who you are dealing with is going to help you in anticipating what questions might be shot your way and, more importantly, what questions you may have yourself. From the recruiter’s point of view, it will show that you are doing your homework and are willing to go the extra mile.
- Go at it alone
Sometimes, working for a company or any pre-existing organisation might not be what you want to do. Maybe you’d just rather start your own business. The good news is that all the principles laid out above still apply. Create a CV or portfolio, establish an online profile and an online brand, network and farm and get experience in your field through internships or volunteering work. Then, start your own business. It might be slow at first, but it gives you the time to develop yourself as a professional and grow as your own business grows.
If you can’t find success that way, you will have at least gained valuable experience. And because you are at the beginning of your career, doing a hard reset and starting fresh doesn’t have the ramifications that it might have 10 years down the line when you have children of your own and a house you’re paying off.
These are just some tips and tricks to help you getting started. The most important thing to remember is that, if you’re smart about how you tackle things, anything you’ll do is better than doing nothing at all. So get out there and see what the world has to offer, you’ll actually have fun doing it!