Monday, 31 August 2020

After all the hard work you put in to get your diploma, don't be surprised if you find yourself wondering if you're ready to take the next step into the professional realm.

It's completely normal to have these thoughts. It's also fine to realize that the answer might be “No." And, even if you are ready, the economy may not seem as welcoming to new graduates as you've spent the last four years expecting it to be.

In truth, finding a job that fits can be challenging; in fact, many fresh graduates won't land immediately in the workforce. There are actions, however, that can empower you while you optimize your time between school and your dream job. Investing some additional time in better preparing yourself may ultimately help you launch your career journey further—and faster.

Shift your technology engagement to career mode

With the Internet at your disposal, you have virtually unlimited access to uncover job and fellowship leads, as well as vital information about your career field, including typical salaries, career tips, industry lingo, lesser-known career options and ideal (and not so ideal) workplaces. Regularly listen to industry- specific podcasts. Plug into organized and productive social media groups geared for your targeted career fields. These can be particularly effective for connecting with mentors who can provide guidance and motivational support.

In addition, look over your online presence to ensure it reflects the professional persona you want to present to hiring companies. In this digital millennium, each graduating class began their social media life younger than any prior class. So you may need to take quite a bit of time to scour years of social media content —handles, images, comments, etc. Tighten up the security and privacy settings on your accounts, too.

Build your portfolio

No matter your field, detailing and showcasing projects you have completed during professional or academic experiences can be immensely helpful for various reasons. First, you will gain more confidence—a valuable job-seeking asset—when you realize what you have accomplished. You may also develop a better understanding of what makes you distinct from other candidates, as which opportunities may uniquely fit you. In addition to identifying your strengths, you may be able to pinpoint skill gaps, too.

All of these insights may enable you to present yourself in a more organized and professional way to prospective employers and recruiters to find a more customized job match. Portfolios can include your best relevant work from classes, internships and volunteer gigs, as well as part-time and summer jobs.

For instance, a well-written research paper may help convince employers that you have critical thinking and writing skills they need.

Other potential items that can boost your portfolio:

  • Presentations (video or written) and case studies
  • Newsletters, blog posts, articles
  • Programming code
  • Spreadsheets
  • Accolades and positive performance reviews
  • Metrics or analytics pertinent to your work

Portfolios can be amazing in digital or physical format but keep in mind that sharing them digitally with prospective employers may be easier and faster. You can flex your tech skills by creating a site to host your digital portfolio. Or, use one of the many online tools available to organize and present your work. Take care to investigate options for privacy and restricted viewing.

Remember, your portfolio components should be non-proprietary. Therefore, ensure you have permission to show off work you've done for the organizations that have engaged you. If you cannot include the actual documents you created, write a description of the work, highlighting the skills you used and results without breaking any confidentiality agreements.

Get some new skills

Aim to close any urgent skill gaps you identified. You may want to also research the jobs you want to determine whether it makes more sense to learn something altogether different from the field you pursued in school. An art studies graduate, for example, may find that foundational business and technology knowledge can be valuable in the job market.

Courses and certification programs as well as short volunteer and unpaid gigs may be helpful. Be mindful of how taking on debt for more learning can impact your financial picture. Consider opportunities that will allow you time to learn and earn at the same time. Free or low-cost training and paid internships (although you may have to search harder) are also out there to provide foundational knowledge and skills. Don't forget to also explore government- sponsored programs and consult your public library in your search for opportunities.

Keep sight of what's most important

Academic qualifications remain crucial to employers, and you should be proud of your accomplishments. However, as millions of new graduates hit the job market every year, companies often place a high value on job-relevant skills and experience. Soft skills, including time management and problem-solving, are highly sought after as well.

Taking time to demonstrate workplace readiness and communicating effectively what you have to offer can go a long way in showing hiring managers—and yourself—you have what it takes to deliver on the job.


The content provided is for informational purposes only. Neither BBVA USA, nor any of its affiliates, is providing legal, tax, or investment advice. You should consult your legal, tax, or financial consultant about your personal situation. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BBVA USA or any of its affiliates.

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