Looking for a job can be an awesome process, especially when the need to do so comes as a surprise, for instance, you’re already working and get laid off, or your employer goes out of business or some other devastating thing happens. However, this is not the case for most college students. For most of you, you spend two or more years getting an education, developing a body of knowledge, and perhaps gaining practical work experience, as volunteers, co-ops or interns. These activities should aid in preparing you for your dream job after graduation. What follows are suggestions on how to land your dream job.

  1. Start early. If possibly, identify the kind of job that you want, the setting in which you want to work, and even the geographic location(s).
  2. Review standard job descriptions in online references like O*NET ONLINE (http://www.onetonline.org/), and the newly formed American Job Center Network (http://jobcenter.usa.gov/) to determine tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities required. During the course of your education, make sure that your profile is closely aligned to this standard. Pay close attention to the sections that describe state and national wage and employment trends.
  3. Take inventory of your personal skill set to determine how closely yours match what is generally required to do the work that you want to do. Focus on your strengths and what you must do to improve those areas that need to be further developed (commonly referred to as “weaknesses”.)
  4. Identify organizations that might hire you to do what you want to do. The Career Center staff on your campus can be very helpful here. They will be able to direct you to online and physical directories, listings of employers who visit your campus to recruit, those who regularly post their opportunities with the center, and those who attend campus-based career days and job fairs. The staff should be able to provide information including contact person(s), web address, email address, and maybe phone numbers.
    On the employers’ websites, you will find dropdown menus or links with labels like Jobs, Careers, Employment, etc. There may even be a separate section for college students and recent graduates. In addition to the organization profile & philosophy (About Us), you’ll find a statement about the kind or people they look to hire, including their skills and abilities, even job descriptions. This information can be used to go to Step 5 in the Job Search Process.
  5. Create your resume and/or gather the information you will need to apply on line. Caution! If you start your job search here without working through Steps 1-4 above, you could be headed for disappointing results. Remember, the most effective resume is a targeted resume – one that is prepared for a specific job or job category; one that closely matches the criteria that the employer has already established of the position(s). Does this mean that you should have several versions of your resume? Absolutely! Use headings like Relevant Experience (or Related Experience), and Other Experience. The relevant experience refers to the Career or Job Objective. And yes, I strongly recommend using a career or job objective on your resume. This directs the employer to what you want instead of them having to guess, based on the information provided in your resume. And finally, by all means, rely on the staff in your career center. They are the experts and will be an invaluable resource for you. -30-
  6. William (Bill) M. Carson, Sr., is director of the Center for Career Development at Morgan State University.