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10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Career after Graduation

Businesswoman

So you have done the hard work of applying to a college, being accepted, choosing a major, and earning enough credits and exemplary grades to graduate with a degree. So…what next? This can be the hardest part of a college graduate's life -- trying to figure out the next move to getting a job. If you are looking for help, you are in luck. We have compiled 10 tips to help you jumpstart your career. Let's get started!

1. Create (or update) your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn can help you build a professional presence and network online. Start by connecting with former classmates and professors. You can then add college coursework and useful skills, such as Microsoft Excel or CSS.

2. Join your college's alumni network.

Your school alumni association can be a great resource, if you're on the job hunt. You can gain career advice from alumni in your field and stay informed about alumni events in your area. Some universities even have networks specific to various majors or departments.

3. Get rid of all of those embarrassing photos on your social media accounts.

A 2013 CareerBuilder survey found that 39 percent of companies research job candidates' social networking accounts. Fifty percent of those employers did not move forward with candidates after finding inappropriate photos. When applying to jobs, be sure to clean up your Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest photo albums. Don't give recruiters a chance to turn you down for reasons you can prevent. At the very least, triple-check your privacy settings to ensure that your social media profiles are only visible to people you want to see them.

4. Join a temp agency.

You can gain on-the-job experience, and if you do well, you may even be able to gain a permanent position at the company.

5. Go to a career fair.

Attending a career fair can be a great way to not only learn about jobs in your prospective field but also gain face-to-face contact with potential employers.

6. Take a gap year to do something you've always wanted. Doing so may even help prepare you for the workforce.

Though it seems counterintuitive, many people find career inspiration when they aren't looking for it. Some graduates use the year after finishing college to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) in other countries. According to a USC Rossier blog post, TEFL can not only expose you to different cultures, but it can also help you stand out amongst other candidates when applying to jobs. For example, you can gain proficiency in a foreign language and experience working abroad, both of which are important for an increasingly global workplace.

7. Write a list of college contacts in your field and work on maintaining relationships.

So many people lose touch with the professional network they create in college. It's important to nurture those contacts. You never know when they can help you with your career -- or vice versa.

8. Take a career assessment test to gauge which career(s) align with your strengths.

For those unsure about what kind of job they want to pursue, a career assessment test can help steer them in the right direction. Examples of potential aptitude tests include the University of Missouri Career Interest Game and the MAPP career assessment.

9. Get involved in communities (virtual and real) related to your career of choice.

People who participate in Twitter chats, meet-ups and community events may gain a competitive edge over others when seeking employment.

10. Write a list of skills you'll need for your desired career and work on developing them.

Many people like the idea of their dream job in the abstract but haven't taken the time to measure their own fitness against a list of desirable qualities. If someone believes they need to hone their Excel, public speaking or writing skills, there are ample resources -- including online courses, eBooks and support forums -- dedicated to those objectives.

Sources:

"Benefits of Getting Your TEFL Certification," USC Rossier Online, June 5, 2012, Sarah Fudin, http://rossieronline.usc.edu/benefits-of-getting-your-tefl-certification/

Career Interest Game, University of Missouri, MU Career Center, http://career.missouri.edu/career-interest-game

MAPP Career Test, http://www.assessment.com/

"More Employers Finding Reasons Not to Hire Candidates on Social Media, Finds CareerBuilder Survey," CareerBuilder, June 27, 2013, http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2F26%2F2013&id=pr766&ed=12%2F31%2F2013