By the time graduation comes around in May, you might have been so busy studying for final exams and proofreading your thesis that you haven’t even thought about your next steps. So here are six things you should do now to prepare for your entry into the job market.
1. Get your CV in order
Particularly if it’s their first entry into the job market, many students do not have a well-crafted CV ready. Resumes used for campus jobs or internships aren’t likely to cut it when entering the competitive global development marketplace, so now is the time to make sure your hard-earned skills and experience are organized into a compelling CV that will help you score an interview.
Social media can be a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and build a network of like-minded professionals. Employers are using social media more and more to find and engage with potential candidates.
However, recruiters may also use social media to find out a little more about you that could sway their hiring decision. For some roles, particularly if you want to work in areas such as communications, they may seek someone with an active online presence and established followers. For other roles, however, an active presence, particularly around controversial topics, could be seen as a red flag.
If you have anything posted on any of your social media channels that you would rather a potential employer didn’t see, make sure you use the appropriate privacy settings to restrict access. Watch this video for tips from global development recruiters on utilizing social media to get a job.
3. Set up informational interviews
Getting your foot in the door of a global development organization is no small feat. Even entry-level positions look for candidates with experience, and the number of applicants always far outnumber the number of vacancies.
One way to jumpstart your job search is to set up informational interviews with professionals and organizations of interest. You should view informational interviews as a chance to listen and learn from experienced industry professionals, and to find out about available career paths and where you might fit into the sector. Not only will you be able to build up a network of valuable industry contacts, but this can also be an opportunity to practice your interview skills and prepare for common questions. Not sure how to go about it? Read our tips here on how to ask for an informational interview and make the most of this opportunity.
4. Think about your references
While you don’t need to include references on your CV, it is something you will have to provide at a later stage in the hiring process and is worth thinking about now. If your references include professors or supervisors, or the manager of the part-time job you will soon be leaving, then it is better to discuss this with them now and ensure you have their correct contact details to pass on to potential employers.
If you lack relevant global development experience, these types of references can be particularly important to an employer’s hiring decision. They will want to know about your work ethic and commitment, your ability to perform as part of a team or take initiative when necessary, and how you will fit in with their organizational culture. Read these tips on who you should include on your ultimate reference list.
5. Interview preparation and practice
The very idea of an interview situation for most people is stressful and nerve-wracking. Preparation and practice can, however, make the whole thing a little less terrifying. If your interview technique is a little rusty because you have been out the job market for a while, or because you are entering it for the first time, ask a friend to test you.
Organizations are increasingly favoring video interviews for their initial screening of candidates and, while you can expect the questions they ask to be more or less the same, the online format can sometimes throw candidates off. Here are some tips for acing an online, video interview.
6. Enjoy a short break
After a busy semester, you will no doubt be in need of some well-deserved rest and relaxation. So take some time off while you can. However, don’t get too complacent about following up on your next steps. With thousands of new graduates entering the job market, many entry-level positions are likely to have been filled by the end of summer when a lot of staff take vacation and hiring efforts ease off. If you are already applying for jobs, consider this when you are making summer travel plans. Employers aren’t likely to wait around for you, so make sure you are available for interviews or to start when needed.
Devex Communications and Reporting Associate Emma Smith also contributed to this article.
No matter if you're a recent graduate looking for your first job in the field or an executive level professional looking for your next leadership challenge, Career Navigator offers articles, reports, videos and online events to help guide you on the first step, or next step, of your professional journey. Where do you want to go?
Kate Warren is the senior director and editor of careers and recruiting content at Devex. With more than a decade of international development recruitment experience working with international NGOs, consulting firms and donor agencies, she has a finger on the pulse of hiring trends across the industry and insider knowledge on what it takes to break in.
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