Creative Ways to Success in Your Career Path

posted by Andy Preisler 28 Aug 2015

It’s never too early to think about your career path. You may or may not have declared your major and you may be considering several options. But there are some things you can do now no matter what career path you ultimately choose. And then once you have made your final selection, there are additional ways to “get an edge” on the competition.

From the Day You Enter College Until You Declare a Major

  1. Get involved in some organizations and community service efforts right away. Partying all of your free time is fun, but designing new drinking games will not be something you can put on your resume.
  2. Start a LinkedIn profile that begins to enumerate the things in which you get involved that would be meaningful and impressive to a potential employer
  3. Start your own freelance business – take a hobby and turn it into something you can sell; get a creative idea for making money – run errands for busy people, repair computers, run a dog-walking or pooper scooper business; sell flowers, water, etc. in traffic; write essays and papers for other students. Do you have a talent? Set up on a street corner and play music or draw caricatures. Being entrepreneurial is always a good thing to put on a resume.
  4. Focus on that GPA. Many students are using writing services for research papers in college, because they aren’t good writers, and those papers impact their grades so negatively.

Once You Declare a Major

  1. You have about two years left now. Do anything you can to get an internship in your chosen field. If you can’t get one, then volunteer to do anything in an organization related to your field – coffee runs and emptying trash cans at least put you in the environment, and someone may let you do more than that at some point. You might also get a reference out of it.
  2. Keep updating your LinkedIn profile and start a portfolio of stuff you have written, produced, etc. You never know when it will come in handy as you seek employment
  3. Start developing content for your resume. You need to do it now so you don’t forget anything important. Just keep adding to it.
  4. The Resume. When you are ready to create that resume, don’t grab a standard template from some online source. Most are outdated. Use help of a resume writing service – these people know what they are doing and will be able to customize a resume for each company or organization to which you want to apply. They’ll know how much color and graphics to use, etc. If, however, you insist upon writing your own, at least look at many examples before you start, and save this checklist for good resume writing:
  • Send a hard copy in addition to a digital one – puts your name in someone’s face twice
  • Use a decent font – don’t get frilly or creative with it
  • Have some visual appeal – even a different color paper with a contrasting border will help. Or put your bold headings in a different color. Light gray paper with navy or dark maroon headings is great looking, even for a conservative organization. Use graphics is they work well.
  • Use the right keywords and phrases for the organization
  • Put more emphasis on stuff that relates to the position – you may need to change this out for each potential employer
  • No personal information except name and contact info – you don’t need to put in an address – it just takes up space and no one is going to contact you by snail mail to set up an interview.
  • Use only action verbs when describing what you have done
  • No more than a page, especially if this is your first position in your career field
  • Us heading, sub-headings and bullet points so reader can skim quickly – you only have a few seconds to get their attention anyway.

If you have to submit a CV instead of a resume, you really will need some help. Professionals can help you work on your CV to stand out from the crowd. It will be money spent that is well worth it.

  1. Clean up your social media pages – photos and text. Even if you have to de-friend really close friends for a while, they’ll understand.
  2. If you get that interview, be smart and prepare. Anticipate the questions you will be asked, prepare answers and practice them in front of a mirror or with a friend. You have to look natural and composed. Here are some reasons for interview failures:
  • Wrong dress. For God’s sake, figure out the company culture and dress accordingly. If you interview with a tech startup, a pair of slacks and a polo may be fine; but you better have a sport coat, dress shirt and tie for a larger more conservative company. And get a decent pair of interview shoes – Walmart has them cheap!
  • Slouching – yes, slouching. Sit up, lean forward and pay attention to every word that is being said.
  • Nonverbal language. You show interest by eye contact, nods, and smiles – do it.
  • Lying. Don’t lie, especially about clubs, organizations, community service work, getting fired, etc. You never know who your interviewer may know.

There you have it – 10 hacks for “upping” your potential career path success while you are still in college. Getting “ahead of the game” early on really does work.

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