5 Things You Should Do After Earning Your Degree
If your graduation date recently passed or is just around the corner, you might be experiencing a gamut of emotions. Hopefully, one is elation that all your hard work resulted in new skills, knowledge, and expertise. But it is not uncommon to also feel a certain degree of fear or anxiety about how to put your new degree to use. Below is a list of several proactive steps you can take after graduation that will help you embark upon a new career path or move forward in your current field.
1. Celebrate Your Achievement
Before diving headfirst into the competitive job market, take a moment to stop and acknowledge the fact that you invested in yourself and your future by earning a degree. This is a huge achievement, and it deserves to be celebrated with a little self-care, whatever that looks like for you. Whether you book a fabulous weekend getaway or take a few deep breaths accompanied by a self-high five, it is important to reward your effort, recharge your batteries, and ready yourself for the new adventure that awaits.
2. Utilize Ashford’s Alumni Services
Ashford University’s Career Services Resource Designer Nicole Poff lists several valuable resources available to Ashford alumni that she recommends utilizing. These include:
● My Career
My Career provides access to 1:1 coaching sessions with career advisors and also includes self-directed resources such as job boards and resume-builders.
● Ashford Career Resources
Find helpful tools, templates, webinars, and more.
● AU Connect
Ashford’s alumni directory makes it easy to find networking and mentoring opportunities. Regional events are also offered, where faculty, deans, and career advisors physically meet with students and alumni in various locations throughout the country.
● Ashford University Alumni Association
This group offers several valuable programs and services to help Ashford alumni save money through discounts, grants, and other benefits.
Poff’s primary piece of advice is to call Career Services sooner rather than later.
“I’ve seen many students who had great experience, they just didn’t know how to effectively tell their story,” she says. “If you’re struggling to find a job or just want to talk out your strategy, our advisors are here to help!”
3. Update Your Resume
A new degree calls for a freshly updated resume that is not only polished and professional, but also specifically tailored to each position for which you apply.
“Have your resume reviewed by a career advisor or at least a second pair of eyes,” suggests Poff. “Spelling errors can lead to automatic discard, so it is important to put your best foot forward with a resume free of mistakes.”
It is also important to be mindful of the exact qualifications each employer is looking for in a candidate.
“In the past, being a jack of all trades was a good thing, but now employers are looking for a custom fit,” Poff says.
To effectively convey how your skills and experience translates to specific roles, Poff recommends making sure your resume is Applicant Tracking System-ready.
“When alumni have great experience, and they are submitting hundreds of resumes without seeing results, I often tell them ‘It’s not you, it’s your resume,’” she says.
Poff suggests that if you are applying to jobs but not landing any interviews, consider changing up your approach or your resume.
“But keep making adjustments until you start seeing results,” she urges.
One important thing to note, she says are the keywords in the job descriptions. If they are different than what is on your resume, it is highly unlikely that the tracking system will move your resume onto an actual human review.
“Because of these systems, customizing your resume to each job is even more important,” she concludes.
4. Customize Your LinkedIn Profile
According to a recent LinkedIn report, over 30,000 companies use the platform to recruit at an astounding level of 3,000,000 new jobs posted every month. (2019) According to Poff, having a strong LinkedIn presence is vital.
“LinkedIn is a great way to find recruiters and network with those in your field,” she says. “Additionally, it is a great way to figure out what others in your field have done to land their roles. Look at their experience, certifications, skills, and verbiage to ensure that your LinkedIn is on track.”
Poff recommends this helpful checklist for those looking to make their LinkedIn profile more attractive to recruiters.
Another crucial step in any post-graduate career search is networking. There’s good news for introverts: great networking opportunities exist in the digital realm as well as in person. No matter where you network, there are some important elements to consider:
Ask questions and listen: Networking can go very badly if you make everything about yourself or you speak too highly of your skills.
“Make sure to take interest in the other person,” Poff recommends.
Have an “elevator pitch” prepared: Your elevator pitch should be short and concise and most importantly, it should feel authentic versus a sales pitch.
“If you are entering a new field upon graduation, it is always good to discuss why you are passionate about your new field and how your past experience transfers to the field you are hoping to enter,” Poff adds. “Remember ‘WIFT’ - what’s in it for them?”
Because today’s job market is so competitive, it can be challenging for even the most experienced and qualified candidates to find the right opportunities and recruiters. For that reason, it is important to try and remain positive, patient, and flexible throughout your search.
“I have interviewed many candidates who were frustrated and discouraged by the job process, and unfortunately, that discouragement carried into their interview,” Poff says. “Employers want positive employees with can-do attitudes. Keep your eyes focused on your future career, and keep telling yourself that you are a great asset.”
Written by Ashford University Staff