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Career experts offer 2017 grads job-search advice: Kim Shepherd to Chicago Tribune

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Decision Toolbox Chairwoman Kim Shepherd was recently asked for her advice for a successful entry into the job market, shared with readers of Chicago Tribune.  The article originally appeared here.

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Starting line: Career experts offer 2017 grads job-search advice

 

As the Class of 2017 prepares to leave campus, we asked some of our career experts to share their tips on a successful entry into the job market.

“Use your career services office. They are there to assist you, offer advice and cultivate relations through employers and alumni connections they regularly work with. Don’t underestimate the power of their network to assist you. It’s not what you know but who you know (or who they may know). Once you’ve landed, let your alma mater know about your success. They’ll be eager to add your name to their database of recent graduate hires. When you can, become an alumni mentor to others at your alma mater and pay it forward.”

–John Hyde, dean of career services, New York Institute of Technology

“Never underestimate the power of your personal network. You begin building this network as an incoming college freshman with your professors, employers and mentors through professional internships. Actively engage with members of your network through personal relationships, LinkedIn or online communities to help with job interview prep. They can help you assess what the person making hiring decisions wants to know — and how you can best articulate the value of your knowledge, skills and experience to land the job.”

–Carolina Martin, executive director of Students Rising Above, San Francisco

“Worry less about making the right decisions in your career and worry more about making your decisions right. When you graduate, you tend to think you need to have a long range plan of where you are trying to get to, but what you don’t realize is that in order to maximize your potential, it has to be a long and winding road. Sometimes the opportunities from left field that feel like they are taking you off track are actually the ones that open up new doors that you never even knew were there. Take the pressure off yourself to have it all mapped out. Instead, be relentlessly open to opportunities.”

–Sarah Robb O’Hagan, CEO, Flywheel Sports, New York

“Approach the job search like you would dating. It would be strange to have a dating profile that says ‘I am willing to date anyone who will date me,’ but you would be surprised to see how often students approach the job search saying ‘I’ll do anything.’ Likewise, applying to 200 jobs with the same resume is like sending out a generic message to everyone on a dating site and hoping someone likes you. Instead, get to know more about the organizations you are pursuing, and show a genuine interest in them by building relationships with people who work there.”

–Andrea Tider, career counselor, Lubin School of Business, Pace University, New York

“Choose what makes your heart beat the fastest: We all have aspects of our lives that fill us with more passion and joy than others. If you take the time to reflect on those aspects, and can find a way to infuse what you love into your job, it won’t feel like work. Consider the types of things in your daily life that bring you the most excitement, and look for those qualities when evaluating job opportunities. There are no right or wrong answers, there are only personal passions to be pursued.”

–Brad Smith, CEO, Intuit, Mountain View, Calif.

“This generation has the technology and information access to look at what’s coming. Do your research. How will game development, environmental engineering, real estate, optometry and other professions change? For example, while the demand for software developers is soaring, automation is sending the computer operator profession the way of the buggy whip. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky said it best: ‘Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been.’ You might even be the one who drives the change.”

–Kim Shepherd, CEO, Decision Toolbox, Irvine, Calif.

“Develop a digital portfolio. Employers want to see that a candidate has the skills needed to be successful in their company. Graduates can showcase these skills by creating a digital portfolio. These online portfolios catalog achievements by providing a space for users to aggregate all digital evidence of what they have created, achieved and mastered.”

–Michael Hansen, CEO, Cengage, Boston

“Don’t fall for the convention that looking for a job is a full-time job. Freelancing or temping is a great way to get an inside view into various organizations and experience different environments. You’ll be gaining valuable experience and potentially valuable contacts, too! It will also give you something additional to discuss when an interviewer asks what you’ve been doing with your time. You can even work it to your advantage to show that by experiencing a few different company environments you’re even more certain that the company you’re currently interviewing is the right one for you.”

–Michele Mavi, resident career expert at Atrium Staffing, New York

“Don’t overlook the power of your personal brand. From the day you graduate college, being confident in who you are and what you can offer will bring you one step closer to the job you’ve always wanted. In this day and age, your online presence is the first place employers will look to get a sense of who you are and how you might add value. Whether it’s a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page or personal blog, building (and owning) your personal brand is a crucial first step in launching your career.”

–Seth Price, vice president of industry relations, Placester, Boston

“Don’t take your mother’s advice — you really do need to talk to strangers. New grads need to realize the importance of building a network. Meeting new people is crucial to finding future job leads. Professional relationships are not just formed at official ‘networking events’ or conferences. You can uncover job leads in daily life: while volunteering, on line at the grocery store or even in waiting rooms. Talking to strangers and building connections on a regular basis is a key piece to any successful career.”

–Bless Vaidian, director, career counseling, Pace University Career Services, New York

“As much as people around you may want you to succeed, no one else but you is responsible for creating your own definition of success. So as you look toward the future, don’t allow yourself to be hemmed in by the rules that others live by. It may take courage to break apart from the pack, and you may sometimes make the wrong call, but living the life you were born to live will sometimes require bending the rules, and other times it will require being brave enough to break them entirely.”

–Margie Warrell, leadership coach and author of “Make Your Mark”

“Don’t be too starry-eyed when it comes to your first job. You don’t want to over-/undersell yourself during the application process. Be realistic about your expectations and the value you will bring to the company. Employers are most interested in people who are bright and willing to work hard, so highlight these qualities in your application materials and during the interview process. And when you land the job, be humble. Most managers will want you to prove yourself before they start giving you more responsibility. Focus on acing smaller projects before you ask for more high-profile tasks.”

–John Gulnac, regional president, Robert Half, Kansas City

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