With commencement less than 40 days away, Keene State College seniors admit they are starting to become more worried about their lives after graduation.
Louise Ewing is a career advisor in the KSC Academic and Career Advising Center in the Elliot Center on campus.
Ewing shared advice she said all college students can benefit from.
Ewing also said that seniors should be starting to apply for jobs for after graduation and should be working on building their resumes and connections.
“I would say if you’re starting to see positions you want that are open now, you should go ahead and start applying because on your resume students should have their expected graduation date so employers will know when you’re available, and the hiring process can take time,” she said. She explained that this is the perfect time for seniors to start applying and if the employer decides they need to fill the position sooner they will, but they may wait. However, Ewing explained, “Eighty percent of jobs are found through networking, so you want to spend eighty percent of your time building your network, but the other twenty percent you want to look at websites, but that isn’t where you want to sit.”
She explained LinkedIn is a great website to make connections. She said the purpose of networking on LinkedIn isn’t to ask people for a job, but it’s more about asking them advice, information about working in the field and how they went about their job search.
KSC senior Katie Wynot said she has a LinkedIn and believes this is a valuable tool for the “modern day networking world.”
“I have been able to connect with students, professional employers, companies, trending groups for tips in my field and potential jobs in the areas I see for employment,” she explained.
She said that LinkedIn has helped her start her job search for post-graduation. However, she said she doesn’t expect to just be handed a job and realizes the importance of persistence.
“Beginning with LinkedIn and following up with job sites for my field, I know I would like to work in the non-profit sector, therefore I will follow up on all non-profit organizational sites, get recommendations from my supervisor at my internship and send emails to potential employers,” she explained.
She continued, “This form of networking is subtle because you are actively showing interest and forming connections with potential employers by simply having a conversation.” For students that don’t have a LinkedIn or don’t know how to operate the website, Ewing said Students.linkedIn.com has great videos and tips on how to use the website. She explained, “It does a really great job at getting you started, such as how to create a profile, how to start networking, how to do career research…”
She added, “There’s a KSC alumni group that would be great for students to join.”
Since LinkedIn is a networking site, she said it is important for students and alumni to present themselves professionally. A big part of this, she said, is having a presentable and professional picture.
Ewing advised, “Take a nice picture where you’re wearing professional clothing with a nice backdrop. Don’t use pictures that aren’t professional, where you’re not the only one in the picture, you want to be thinking ‘What’s the professional face I want to put forward?’”
She added on April 7 a KSC professor will be taking pictures on campus so students can get a professional headshot for job hunting.
Ewing said another way students can also network is by putting the word out to everyone they know.
“Let everyone you know, such as family, friends, professors and alumni, that you’re gathering career information and you would like to talk to people in the field,” she said.
She also said Facebook is a great way to reach out to people to let them know you’re interested in learning more about a job field, advice and suggestions. Ewing said that although it may seem strange to ask people for advice instead of for a job, that is the way students will know if this area will be right for them and eventually find a job.
“It takes time,” she said, “In the process of gathering information about a job to decide what are the titles and careers out there that you’re interested in, the other person is getting to know you and maybe they know of opportunities that they might think they should let you know about.”
She continued, “They may refer you to other people that would be good for you to talk to. Sometimes it is in that second and third level of contact that you find the hidden jobs.” She added that recruiting costs an employer a lot of money, so if they can find people who are being recommended they are usually willing to take that risk.
“A lot of time jobs become available that don’t get posted on the board because it’s happening in another way,” she said.
Krystyna Melahn, a KSC senior and nursing major, said that she found out about a job she recently applied for by word of mouth. Since KSC requires all nursing majors to have experience in the field before graduation, Melahn said this has helped her make connections in the field.
“Getting a job or internship will also help with networking and getting the insight you need about the necessary steps to take to go about getting a job in the future,” she said.
She also explained that not only will these experiences help her with networking and learning more about the field, but also given her experience that she wouldn’t have learned in the classroom.
These experiences, she said, also look good on her resume to potential employers. “I’ve had my preceptorship in the medical-surgical unit which lasts for a semester and the rest of my clinical rotations have been in geriatrics, pediatrics, psychology and medical surgical units. These were each vital to gaining actual experience and building confidence with my hands-on skills.”
Ewing explained that it is great to be able to make connections though jobs or internships that could lead to a career opportunity. However, she explained that students can also be looking for open jobs on websites.
“Jobwise is an active database where employers post internships and jobs, because want to reach out to KSC seniors and alumni,” she said. Ewing suggested students to also look on Craigslist, Indeed.com, local major newspapers, Usajobs.gov for government jobs, Idealist.org and chamber of commerce member directories to find the businesses in the area they will be after graduation.
She explained Indeed.com is a good source because gives students a geographic location to choose from and the opportunity to see what companies are hiring, even if it isn’t the exact position they are looking for. Ewing advised, “Avoid places like Monster.com, it’s not very active, it’s not worth the time. It may be tempting to post your resume and hope that employers will find you, but employers aren’t going to look there and instead you’re going to get spam by employers you don’t want. If you post your resume somewhere you open yourself up for potential identity theft.”
The most important part of starting to apply for jobs Ewing said, is having their resume complete. “It’s a document where you are marketing your skills, your education and knowledge, your experience paid and unpaid, your accomplishments as they all relate to the particular employer and job you’re applying for,” she explained.
She explained a resume is not a static document, it is always being changed to fit each position and each company.
“Employers get a ton of resumes and they make take only twenty or thirty seconds to decide if it’s going into the yes pile or the no pile, and if it gets in the yes pile, they’re going to send more time on it,” she explained. She continued, “So it needs to be written in a way where information is clear, relevant, balloted or any way to make what that student has to offer stand out to that employer.”
Although Wynot said she hadn’t written a resume until the fall of 2013, she took a courses named Transition into the Workplace and Business and Professional Communication at KSC. She said these courses really helped her shape and build her resume and taught her how to write professional documents that are necessary when applying for a job. She said writing her resume also helped her realize she wanted more experience in the field. “Now,” she said, “Resume building has become a critical part of my experience here at KSC. I took my resume building to the next level and began making appointments at Academic and Career Advising, another tip I recommend to all KSC students because they offer great advice and constructive ways to improve your resume for potential employers.” Wynot said resumes allow students to critically think through their experiences and break them down into valuable resources for potential employers to view them through. She explained, “For example, because I am the Coordinator of Alternative Breaks here on campus, making sure my ‘volunteer and leadership’ section of my resume is very important. This is where most of my professional experience will come from. This is the chance for all students to individualize their resume and reflect back on their professional and academic experiences as students, employees and individuals,” she explained.
On the Academic and Career Advising website there is a sample of 19 resumes from a range of majors which are available for students to look at as guide to look at format and organization. Ewing said, “Every student here has skills and experiences they can be marketing and a lot of times they just don’t realize it.”
Although this can be overwhelming, Ewing said students should have a back up plan so they can reduce their anxieties with this process. “If students are just starting now, they should have a ‘plan b.’ They should think about what would they like to be doing after graduation. Maybe it’s doing temporary assignments, maybe it’s a summer job while you work on building your networking,” she said.
She recommends students to visit the Academic and Career Advising Center for help or advice on a variety of topics when it comes to applying for jobs.
She said students can make an appointment to practice interview techniques, work on how to network, write or edit their resume and search for jobs among many other things.
The Academic and Career Advising Office is in Elliot Center on the first floor. Students can call 603-358-2500 to set up an appointment.
Taylor Thomas can be contacted at email@example.com