Get a head start on your job search
Follow these steps to get noticed by hiring companies
Editor's Note: CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.
While you might have a serious case of senioritis and all you can think about is hitting the beach, you should also be anxious to pound the pavement looking for that first professional job.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, an estimated 1.4 million of you will be graduating in 2006.
Although you'll be competing with these other grads, there's good news: A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows 66 percent of employers expect to hire more new college grads than last year.
So what can you do to elbow out other recent alums and get yourself noticed by those hiring companies?
Step 1: "Find yourself:" First you must determine what you would like to do professionally and where you would like to work. That means taking a good look at yourself. Examine not only your academic achievements and extracurricular accomplishments, but also be honest about your skills and limitations.
Step 2: Spell it out in a resume: Every job search begins with a good resume. If you are unsure how to create a resume, contact your school's career counseling center for tips, or go online.
There are many Web sites, like CareerBuilder.com, and books available to help you craft this very important and unique snapshot of you.
Step 3: What job would make you happy?: Finding out what makes you happy is a good way to narrow the field and target certain organizations. For example, you graduated with a degree in accounting, but you really love to travel and don't want to be stuck behind a desk all day.
Consider a position in an accounting consulting firm with national clientele. That way you can apply your aptitude for numbers while feeding your wanderlust.
Step 4: Launch a full-fledged job search: So you've identified your abilities and the kind of organization in which you would like to work.
Now's the time to get out there and make things happen. Scan job postings, put your resume online, attend job fairs and talk to professors, campus advisers and friends who graduated before you to let them know you're looking for a job.
Step 5: Follow your industry news: Another way to keep current and land a position in your desired field is to read the publications geared toward people in your chosen industry.
Attend professional seminars. Not only will you meet people in your targeted profession, you will learn valuable industry information that can help you on an interview and in your new position.
Step 6: Practice for that interview: You wouldn't walk into a final exam without studying. The same is true for interviewing. You must read over your resume until you know it by heart.
Anticipate the questions you might be asked and be prepared with solid answers. You also should prepare questions to ask during the interview ahead of time.
Role play with someone who has interviewed candidates in a professional setting -- a parent, professor or work-study supervisor.
Step 7: Be persistent: You most likely will not get a job overnight, but keep at it. It's natural to get discouraged -- especially your first time out of the gate. Eventually you'll land your first "real job."
Step 8: Keep up the good work: The search may be over, but your career has just begun. So be sure to maintain your resume and network of contacts.
An updated list of accomplishments and file of positive references from colleagues will help you make the case for future promotions within your organization or for when it is time to move on to your next opportunity.
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