It is that time of year again! Commencement speeches have been heard, cardboard hats have sailed and congratulations are in order for all of the recent college grads. You’ve gone through 4 years of higher education and are ready to jump into the next phase of your life. The work force. We have some good news for you class of 2017 – the job market is one of the best in years with starting salaries up 4% over 2016 according to Michigan State University. However, there are also approximately 1.9 million bachelor’s degree level students projected to graduate. We have some advice for getting the edge over your fellow grads to get the job that you have been preparing for for all of these years.

The first piece of advice is to realize that your first career is going to be quite different than your college years. Cell phones and texting can no longer be an integral part of your day. To be successful in the work place, one must be able and willing to build relationships by interacting with people face to face. There is value in talking to and networking with co-workers and bosses outside of electronic means.  There might not be as much regular feedback from your boss or supervisor as you had been used to in a school setting.   Make sure to ask questions of course, but also know when to just listen and carefully follow the directions that you are given. The first job that you land may not be your dream job, but everyone has to begin somewhere and in the working world any experience can be a great stepping stone to eventually making your way to that dream job.

If you haven’t begun your job search yet – get going! The sooner the better in terms of being able to find employment. In order to know where to begin your search, there are a few things that you should take into consideration. The first is to know your strengths and to identify roles within a company that you might be able to utilize those strengths. Look at and research the company itself and make sure that you could imagine yourself fitting in with their goals and ideals. When you are preparing a resume, know that employers are more interested in what you know and what kind of experience and skills you have rather than your GPA. Highlight your internships and volunteer activities as well as some pertinent hobbies. Rather than just listing something like, “good with people”, be more specific and expand on that attribute by giving an example. Be aware that some employers will be looking at your various social media sites. Now is the time to make your sites more professional looking. Be aware that the image created by certain photos or posts can certainly sway a prospective employer away from hiring if not deemed professional. Nowadays, employers can have very specific rules and procedures around applying for a job. Take note of them and follow them. For example, ask about their policy on following up on interviews or applications. Some employers may find that too many follow-up phone calls or emails are actually annoying and that might hurt the likelihood of being hired.

Taking the step out of a lifetime of schooling into the working world can be very daunting. Employers today are looking for self-motivated, hard working adults. Your years of attending college were meant to prepare you for the demands of today’s work force. Trust your teaching and yourself. Use common sense. Reach out to people with more knowledge than you have, learning doesn’t end when you hold a degree in your hand. Remember that every job builds experience and knowledge to propel your career to the place you imagine yourself to be. You are about to be a Freshman all over again, but this time in the working world. Keep that mind set and enter your career knowing you will have a lot to learn and some steps to climb before you get to the top and you will be setting yourself up for workplace success.

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