by Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD
- Have you established a career plan which will systematically guide you from where you are today to a great job doing just what you want to do? The good news is that establishing a career plan early on is not difficult to do, is not expensive, and can even be fun! Here are some ideas that can increase your chances of being successful:
- Networking. Meet professionals who do what you want to do. Have a detailed discussion with them to fully understand what they do, the college experiences which best prepared them for their career, and obtain their recommendations for what you should do.
- Observation. Shadow one or two of your networking contacts for a few days or a week (if you haven’t already had an after school or summer job which afforded you the opportunity to observe professionals in your field doing their professional work).
- Go/No Go Decision. At this time, it is best to think through your initial networking experiences and decide if you are still really interested in doing what you thought you wanted to do. If not, select a new career goal and go back to step 1.
- Ideal Job Candidate Resume Preparation. Based upon what you have learned from your networking and observation experiences and what you may have read and learned in school about your profession, prepare an ideal resume to support your candidacy for your initial job after you graduate. Be sure to include your name and all of your relevant accomplishments on the resume. Make a point to include:
- Results achieved for major projects (don’t list a lot of tasks, list results), along with a brief explanation for each project.
- Degrees received.
- Skills which are in demand in the marketplace.
- Internships and other employment.
- Leadership experiences.
- A summary statement which shows how all of the above have prepared you to be the best candidate for your ideal job.
- Be sure the ideal candidate resume ROARs (is Results Oriented And Relevant).
- Identify Your Gaps. Go through your ideal resume and highlight each of the items on the resume which you have not completed but could complete in yellow. Highlight those items which you have completed in green. Highlight those which you are confident you would not be able to complete in red. Warning – red gaps are a danger sign. If you have many significant ones, you may need to go back to step one and select a new career choice.
- Prepare an action plan. Open a new file with the following columns:
- Action. Copy each yellow item from your resume into the first column of your action item list.
- Description. Describe how you will complete the action item in detail.
- Targeted Start Date. Assign a starting date to each action item.
- Targeted Completion Date. Assign a completion date to each action item.
- Assign a status to each item. For example:
- Green – making anticipated progress
- Yellow – slightly behind and working on fixing it.
- Red – getting help to get back on track. You will probably start with everything Green. Sort your action plan by start date and display your action plan in a prominent place where you will see it frequently.
- Complete your action plan. Throughout your academic career keep your action plan current. Rework your ideal candidate resume to reflect real accomplishments. Revise your summary section on your resume to reflect your new experiences. Stay in contact with your networking friends a few times a year and make new networking friends, too!
- Success! Follow the above recommendations and you may have an awesome job looking for you, rather than needing to look for a job when you graduate.
Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD would like to thank Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments. Ronald G Shapiro, PhD is a speaker and consultant in Career Development, Leadership Development, Education, and Human Factors/Ergonomics. His Education by Entertainment programs are applicable, enjoyable, entertaining, memorable, useful and fun.
©Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD. All rights reserved.
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