Congratulations on your fall graduation! Even though your college journey may be ending, your life as a working professional is just beginning. As you begin this new chapter, rest assured in the knowledge that your HBCU education has given you the tools you’ll need to achieve your career goals.
If you haven’t lined up a job just yet, don’t worry. Despite what you may have heard, graduating in the fall semester will not hurt your job search. In fact, it may even help in some ways. Here are some ways to make the most of your job search after a fall graduation.
How a Fall Graduation Affects Your Job Search
When it comes to the post-college job hunt, a fall graduation presents both pros and cons.
First, the downside: Compared to other graduates, you’re searching in the “off season.” Most companies plan their recruiting activities under the assumption that students will be graduating in the spring. This means that there are fewer official recruiting events during the fall semester.
However, fall and winter graduations also have advantages. As fall semester graduations have become more popular, companies and career services offices have started doing more for fall semester grads. Even better, the timing is great. Companies do most of their hiring in January and February. Entering the market now means that you have a good chance of getting a job offer soon. And compared to spring grads, a fall graduation means less competition for entry-level jobs and a six-month head start on your job search.
Job Search Tips for Fall HBCU Graduates
If you’re entering the job market this fall or winter, here are a few things you can do that will increase your chances of getting the job you want.
- Update your professional profile. Now is the time to update your resume, portfolio, LinkedIn page and anything else that you might give to a recruiter. Make sure that everything has current, accurate information. Proofread everything – multiple times.
- Make a plan. Actually, you should make two plans. First, if you haven’t already, now is the time to make a three-year career plan. Creating this plan will help you think about your future and evaluate your goals. Clarifying your long-term goals will help you make sure that you’re looking for the right jobs.
After you’ve identified your long-term goals, you should make a job search plan. Make a list of companies where you’d like to work and any openings. Then, craft a plan that prioritizes the jobs and outlines when you should apply. Be prepared to revise the plan as you learn about new opportunities.
- Know the hiring schedule in your industry. Some industries hire year round while others tend to hire at specific times. If you’re searching outside of the typical time for your industry, you shouldn’t worry, but you should be proactive. You might also consider widening your search to include a wider variety of companies and jobs.
- Network, network, network. Now that you’re an alum, your fellow alums will bend over backwards to help you. You can meet fellow alums in your industry online (LinkedIn and Facebook are good places to start) or at networking events. Join your HBCU’s alumni association as soon as possible to get updates about alumni events near you.
Speaking of networking events, lots of people and companies host parties during the holiday season. If you get invited to one, go. You never know who you might meet!
- Don’t forget to follow up. If you’re reaching out to recruiters in November or December, be sure to follow up with them. Many people take leave during the holidays, so things can fall through the cracks. If you don’t hear from someone after a reasonable time, send a polite follow-up email or LinkedIn message to ask them where things stand.
- Polish your brand. Recruiters see your application materials well before they meet you, so your resume and other submissions need to represent you well. Everything you present should reflect your personality – to an extent. Avoid anything that would be considered too conservative or too flashy for the industry that you’re entering. Your social media profiles are part of your brand as well. Most companies conduct social media checks during the hiring process. Make sure that there isn’t anything on your socials that might cause concern.
- Use your HBCU contacts. Although you’ve graduated, your HBCU will still be there for you. Most career services offices serve alumni as well as students. If you hit a roadblock or have questions, contact your HBCU’s career services office right away.
Don’t forget to talk to your professors. They are an important part of your professional network. If you tell them that you’re looking for work, they’ll be happy to help.
Congratulations again on an awesome achievement. No matter your next step, we know it will be a wonderful one.