START PREPARING NOW:  The Essential Job Search Checklist for College Juniors & Seniors

By Guest Author on September 17, 2012

By Lesley Mitler, Founder of Priority Candidates, Inc.

By now, many of you have returned to college campus life.  For those who have entered your junior year, you have crossed a critical threshold – your studies will become more focused in your chosen major.  For those who have started their senior year, now is the time to think about graduation and of course, what comes next.  Below is a checklist to help you PLAN to prepare to succeed in qualifying for that desired job post-graduation.


1. PREPARE YOUR RESUME.  By doing this now, you will see exactly what your strengths are and where your resume needs to be more robust. Think about what employers will be looking for and make sure your experience will measure up by graduation.
2. JOIN PROFESSIONAL SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITES.  Don’t wait until graduation to start utilizing valuable tools like  Follow companies you’re interested in working for to see the types of opportunities they have available and the attributes they’re looking for in a candidate.  Upload projects you’re proud of or other relevant coursework employers might want to see.  Get recommendations from professors and past employers.  Remember to update your profile periodically with new skills, awards and experience.

3. BECOME A SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT.  Over 85% of employers use social networking websites for recruiting and 95% hired a new employee due to those efforts.  Most jobs go unadvertised which means that you have to use online networking or direct introductions to find a job. Learn how to maximize social media resources to conduct your job search. 

4. HAVE A PLAN FOR THE SUMMER.  Whether you want to work, get an internship, fellowship, etc., it is important to consider your options and how they might strengthen your profile going into senior year.  If you are considering an internship, look at job descriptions and make sure you have the qualifications and skills to be considered.  Know the deadlines for applying to those internships that interest you.


1. UPDATE YOUR RESUME AND SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES.  Make sure the resume reflects your recent experience, relevant coursework and any other recent activities.  Get recommendations from past jobs, internships or volunteer experiences.

2. RESEARCH JOBS TO DETERMINE WHAT KINDS OF ROLES INTEREST YOU.  Understand what coursework, internships, and research experiences and skills will position you most favorably.  Learn about the types of job offers recent graduates from your school have received, and do everything you can to best prepare for your job hunt before you actually have to face the uphill battle of securing full-time employment.

3. READ.  If you really want to show your passion for your chosen industry, learn as much as you can by reading and following new and current trends. Set up an RSS feed for industry news in your area of interest.  Know about breakthroughs and innovations. Learn which companies are growing and relocating–all valuable information to fuel your search and to show your desire and commitment.

4. DEVELOP YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH.  This is a concise, well thought out statement made in 2 minutes or less to introduce yourself and your unique qualifications and experience.  Here are guidelines for developing your elevator pitch.

5. CONTINUE TO BUILD YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL NETWORK. Go out and meet people. Attend networking events and meetups.

Hope this helps to you get organized and plan for your college graduation! 

imageLesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students, law students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs. Lesley is the author of “The First Job Manifesto,” an A-Z guide for getting your first post-college job.  An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, SmartMoney, The Washington Post, CBS News, ABC News, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio.

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