Getting the right job when you’re done with college starts during college. You’re competing against your college grads for those jobs!  How do you secure the job you want and beat the competition?  Here are my top 5 recommendations to get that job offer.  SMARTT TIPS!

  1. During college, work! Having experience to complement your degree will put you ahead of others,  even if you work as a server and you want to be an accountant.  It still helps.  It builds credibility, shows your work ethic, ability to multi-task and juggle responsibilities. Here are a few job-readiness skills you receive from three common college job categories.

Retail: If you work retail during college, you’ll have likely learned valuable face-to-face customer skills, inventory and data management, reporting, product retention, restocking and the overall environment in the retail industry. Valuable stuff for a budding accountant (or any number of other skilled jobs!)

Events: If you work events through a company or as one-off grunt jobs, you’re learning some of the skill set you’d get through retail, plus a broader understanding of logistics, working in large teams under different types of stress, spatial management — you get the idea.

Restaurant: Whether you work back of house or front of house, you’ll understand some of each of the previous two categories, plus micro-planning, grace under fire, multitasking, and many many other skills.

  1. Perfect your resume. Grammar and punctuation actually matter. We’re not pulling your leg here – it’s often the quickest way you’ll be filed in the circular bin forever, without interviewers ever reading your whole resume. Experience also works in your favor. Don’t worry as much about the “odd job” feeling (if you’ve held a bunch of different kinds of jobs through college), but be prepared to talk about any gaps in employment and about what you took away from each different job.


  1. It’s never too early to begin attending events, career fairs and building contacts. There’s nothing wrong with getting your face out there early – in fact, it will likely work to your advantage.


  1. Utilize social media preferred sites and build both a strong profile and connection list. Your network will come in handy when you begin looking. Pro tips: have fun, but limit the super-party pictures to either a very limited protected group of friends (Facebook and Twitter) or off the internet entirely. Catalog your achievements as you go on LinkedIn or your personal blog. Don’t worry about tooting your own horn, just show your successes honestly.


  1. On that note, Facebook: employers do look at potential employee pages, so block your site and keep your public images professional. Some people say “would my grandma be ok with this picture?”

Google: be careful with the pictures you share anywhere on social media. When you’re at a club and the photographer asks for your name, I advise not giving it, as you’ll end up with your name tagged to a “clubbing photo.”  Trust me. I’m not saying don’t have fun, just be cognizant about your image, and how it can affect you later on.  For more on reputation management, click here.

Remember, you can lay groundwork during your college years, show your accomplishments, and prepare your resume and recommendations before you graduate. You’ll be that many steps closer to landing a job out of the graduation line.