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Career Countdown for Seniors

Yes, seniors! This is it. Not long until graduation and your parents ask the inevitable question “What are you doing toward getting a job?"  Even though you don’t want to think about it right now, time marches on and the job search needs to begin NOW. You CAN graduate with a job in hand.  Here's a blue print to aid you with that plan!

September: Research the market

  • Turn off Parks and Recreation and try CNN in order to find out what’s going on in your field in the business world.
  • Hit your computer to investigate companies and organizations that intrigue you.
  • Where do you want to live? How does the cost of living in South Bend compare with Seattle? Find out where you want to live and what your salary needs to be to live there.

October: Perfect your résumé

  • Check out Résumé 101 for tips on how to do a résumé, and then peruse our Mini Packets for samples on your particular major.
  • Never done a résumé? Just want to start one from scratch? Check out Optimal Resume.

November: Clean up your digital dirt

Most people think of Facebook as a fortress - you invite your friends into a highly protected environment where you can share anything you want and it will be secure. However, it is more like a front porch - you invite your friends up for a conversation, and you never know who might be walking by or sitting around the corner within earshot.

  • Think twice before you post a revealing or disparaging photo of yourself on a social networking site.
  • Watch what you say. A lewd or derogatory comment in a blog or comment section can be just as damaging as a photo.
  • Look up old videos you may have posted on YouTube and take down any that could be offensive.
  • Google yourself. See what the public might be reading about you.
  • Change your email address if you have one that seems juvenile or unprofessional.

December: Network, network, network

  • Make a list of everyone you know and make a monthly goal to contact 8-10 people to tell them about what you’re looking for.
  • Be enthusiastic and don’t talk exclusively about yourself. When you ask your neighbor about his company and what he does there, you will get more valuable information than if you ask “Does your company have any openings in my field?”
  • Set up a LinkedIn account: a social networking site connecting you with professionals in your industry. This can be invaluable in your job search.

January: Buy an interview suit

  • If you haven’t already got that interview outfit hanging in your closet, the time has come!!! Everything is on sale after Christmas, so use that holiday cash, or better yet, get your family to invest in a good suit as a late Christmas present. Even if you think you’ll be in business casual for your job, you’ll still need a quality interview suit.
  • Gentlemen! Wonder what is and what is not appropriate interview wear?
  • Ladies! It’s not always easy to know what to look for, so that you don’t feel like you’re wearing your mother’s clothes, because now you’re supposed to look ‘grown up’!

February: Practice interviewing skills

  • The person who gets the job is often not the best qualified, but is the best prepared for the interview. Take advantage of any mock interview scenarios your professors provide for you. It may feel awkward, but it’s great practice. Would YOU hire you?
  • had a great article from the perspective of new grads giving current seniors advice: “Practice greetings and firmness of handshakes, eye contact, appropriate attitude during interviewing (when to smile, when to be businesslike, etc.). Learn standard interview questions. All very important!”

March: Set up informational interviews

  • Informational interviews expose you to the people in your career field who can help make you aware of potential jobs.
  • The primary goal of an informational interview is to establish relationships with your (soon-to-be) professional peers.
  • The secondary goal is to really find out about your chosen field and how to get into it.
  • Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank you note!

April: Learn to negotiate and discuss salary

  • Receiving multiple offers can be a tricky situation. Know how to respond to benefit you and the companies.
  • Patience is valuable.  Wait to discuss salary until the second or third interview.  The first interview will give you a chance to explore the position and allow you to sell yourself on your skills alone.  Before the interview research salary ranges for the position you want.  Websites like, and will give you that information and give you the confidence to then know the range you may negotiate with.

May: Proudly accept your diploma and enter the world of work

Don't be discouraged if you do not have a job yet.  Remember, looking for a job is a full-time job in and of itself!

  • Take a close look at how you are marketing yourself.
  • Read that job description!  Does your résumé reflect the job skills the employer is looking for?
  • Are you making face-to-face connections?  Get involved with a young professional network in your city or the chamber of commerce.  Realize everyone you meet is a network connection so always be friendly and professional.