starting offGraduation season is in the air. Tassles are being turned, photos proudly taken with degrees in hand, and masses of former students are breathing that we-finally-made-it sigh of relief. And while many graduates may think the work is finally over, for a great deal, the work has just begun.

Research continues to tell us about the unfortunate plight of recent graduates—underemployed or unemployed. Even recently, a survey revealed that the majority of HR professionals have stereotypes about Millennial workers, making it that much harder for people in this group to find a job.

With all of the bad news, what’s a new graduate to do? Suzana Simic has a suggestion: Begin your job search as early as possible.

Simic is the director of Career Services at Computer Systems Institute (CSI), a post-secondary institution that offers degree and career programs in the computer, medical and business fields. Working with a variety of students, Simic knows firsthand the challenges students face when preparing to enter “the real world.” Read on to discover the advice she offered readers on how to ensure you successfully transition from college graduate to full-time employee:

1. Millions of college students are graduating this year. What steps should they take to secure employment in today’s economy?

Students should start their career search as early as possible. It is never too early to apply, but it can be too late. Start with personal contacts and career websites. Remember that networking is essential in today’s job market. When all else fails to produce the necessary results, put your feet to the street.

2. How can a student ensure his/her resume stands out from the crowd?

Students should always remember that their resume needs to tell the employer what they will get from this particular candidate. Also, remember that job descriptions are a great tool to pick from when updating your current skills. List four to six major accomplishments on your resume to set yourself above the rest.

3. I’m a recent college graduate and just received a callback for my first interview. What do I do?

PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!  Research the organization prior to the interview; formulate at least three questions to ask during the interview; map out directions to the site; perform a trial run the day before to gauge traffic patterns; iron out a suit the night before; print out several copies of your resume on professional resume paper; and, most importantly, practice interviewing with your career services department, advisor, friendanyone willing to be brutally honest.

Suzana Simic

Suzana Simic

4. Are there any major do’s and don’t’s when interviewing?

Do…provide a firm confident handshake.

Do…engage the receptionist with a smile.

Do…bring several copies of your resume.

Don’t….lie during your interview.

Don’t….be late.

Don’t…. forget to send a follow up/thank you letter.

5. How can job candidates know which questions to ask during an interview and which to avoid?

Research the organization and base your questions off of said research. Ask questions that will help enable you to make a wise career decision for yourself. Avoid asking presumptive questions, i.e. “What does the position pay?” “What would my hours be?” “Are there benefits?”

6. What can current college students (freshman-senior) do to prepare themselves for finding and securing a job post-graduation?

Start networking with alumni while in school, apply to positions prior to graduation, and lastly put your feet to the street.

7. In what ways does CSI helps student transition into successful careers?

CSI has a rigorous 8-month, hands-on program, which teaches our students the fundamentals that are directly related to their career paths. Career Services has monthly career-related workshops that instruct our students on how to network, interview, and how to create a professional resume.  Furthermore, each student goes through intensive mock interviewing, both via Skype as well as i- person interviews.

8. Final thoughts?

Remember that if you have to take a job that is a bit less desirable than your dream job just to get your foot in the door, there is nothing wrong with that.

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