A lot of us go into school with a singular focus on getting good grades, thinking that you’ll get onto your job search in due time. Well, that time is now – you need to prepare for your job search before you graduate.

Getting a head start is important; once you’re caught up in midterms and final exams, you don’t want that stress to interfere with your job search. If you get the details in order now, you’ll have a much easier time applying for jobs once spring comes around.

“Looking for a job before you’ve graduated is important because the search can take several months,” says Catherine Thorburn, a Toronto-based life and career coach. “If you are looking to find a job as soon as you finish school, you need to be planning well in advance.”

Here are three ways students can prepare for their job search – even before they graduate.

Straighten out your social media presence

It’s no secret … being in school involves things that have nothing to do with studying. So, it’s only natural that your social media is going to have goofy pictures from crazy parties and wild nights out. These pictures are wonderful to keep for your own memories, but they can be a big turn-off to employers, especially those that are a bit more conservative. Take some time to comb through what shows up on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. If you’re seeing things that you wouldn’t want an employer to see, it’s time to hide or delete them. Better to do a thorough cleanup now than to scramble the day before an interview, right?

According to Thorburn, “Cleaning up your social media presence is critical, because HR professionals and recruiters often research their candidates before ever speaking with them. This research includes looking at where you have social media profiles, and what kind of things you post. They won’t be interested in hiring someone who appears to be immature or unprofessional, since that could tarnish a company’s brand and reputation.”

Write a starter resume

Chances are you have a pretty good idea what your resume will look like once you’ve graduated. The problem is, a resume in your head will not help you in a job search. A resume needs to be in writing, and now is the time to get it started because you’ll need to have it ready the moment you see an interesting position (or spoken to an interested employer).

Thorburn emphasizes the need to act early. “If you’re starting your job search months in advance of graduating, you need to have a resume ready to go because that is the first step required with a job search, once you’ve found a position you want to apply to.”

Take the time now to write a resume as though you’ve already graduated. Your professors, or career counsellors at your school can be very good sources for insights or advice. If you’re not sure how to go about doing this, check out these tips on how to write a resume when you just graduated, which include defining your career objectives, taking a closer look at your experience, and leveraging your course work.

Resume writing can be a long process, but by starting early, you’ll have the chance to tailor your resume without feeling rushed.

Start searching for jobs

You may be several months away from graduating, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start looking. Even though you might not be ready to apply, you should be getting a sense of what entry-level positions are out there, who the most notable employers are, and what they say they’re looking for in job postings.“It’s never too early to start your job search,” Thorburn says. “It’s not just about seeing what employers are hiring and what’s out there, it’s also about seeing what employers are looking for so that you can be sure you meet their requirements. Since you’re still in school, you can do extra courses or extracurricular activities, if that’s what the employers are looking for.”Even if you spend just 20 minutes every week looking at job postings, you’ll find that when it comes time to do a serious search, you’ll be much more prepared and confident.

Take the time now to get into this habit, and you’ll soon have an advantage as an informed job-searcher – even before you’ve sent in your first application.

You may not know where to begin your job search just yet, but just taking these steps ensures you won’t be caught off guard once graduation comes around. Remember, there are hundreds (or even thousands) of students at your school all graduating with the same credentials. You can still get ahead, though – you just need to be prepared.


Maxwell Arnold is a Consulting student at George Brown College.


See also:

6 online resources to help boost your career

Research reveals how your tattoos affect your chances of getting the job


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