To succeed as a student, you have to do your homework. For students looking to land the right job after graduation, the same rule applies.
That’s the advice Kerry-Ann Gray offers to students at the University of Windsor. The career placement co-ordinator at the university’s Centre for Career Education helps students in a variety of fields make a smooth transition to the workforce.
“Most students look at what’s available immediately and apply close to when they graduate,” says Gray, who admits as a student she did the same.
Gray advises students to start early and make a prioritized list of potential employers and positions to guide their job search. Pay attention to when employers in your field are looking for you, she says.
Topping the list should be your ideal employers and job titles — the ones on the path to your future dream job. This A-list consists of companies or organizations you’ll approach well in advance of graduation, as early as September of your final year of post-secondary education. Once you’ve identified them, it’s time to do some research.
Find out when they hire and how they hire, Gray tells students. What positions are available? Is there a graduate training program? Do they accept resumés via the web, e-mail, fax or hard copy? She encourages students to find someone within a given company they can informally interview by e-mail to get some insight on their career path.
Geography may also play a role in shaping your A-list.
“A lot of students, because of the cost of schooling, will return to their parents’ home after graduation,” Gray says.
Now that you’ve got your A-list, you’ll need to formulate what Gray calls a “complementary” list of employers and job titles. When you get closer to graduation — about two to three months away — it’ll be time to tap this B-list.
Positions within your chosen industry and utilizing the same skill set go on this list, as well as companies that might be suppliers or competitors of those on your A-list. For example, if you are an education student who was unable to land a job as a teacher right away, you might examine positions with organizations that deal with children or youth.
“Ideally they would be a list of companies allowing you to gain the skills needed for your A-list and who possibly would let you network with your A-list,” Gray says.
Your C-list is brought out when graduation is a month away. This list is composed of “transitional positions” or “immediate hires” that won’t take you straight to your dream job, but will offer worthwhile experience. You’ll find them posted on online job boards and in newspaper classifieds.
“A lot of students, particularly new grads, will go to their C-list because their A-list hires in the fall or the summer months,” Gray says, noting there’s nothing wrong with C-list jobs, which just happen to be immediately available.
Following this job-search management plan will ensure you won’t miss out on key employment opportunities because you weren’t prepared, according to Gray.
After all, the goal, she says, is to leave the stress behind and enjoy your graduation.