A week from now, more than 500 excited students will receive their hard-earned credentials as they cross the stage at Capilano University’s Convocation ceremonies. Some already have great positions lined up, others are just beginning the job hunt. So we asked the staff at Capilano U Student Employment Services for their top career tips for new grads. Here they are. Good luck!

1. Figure out what you want to do

It would be great if we all knew exactly what career we wanted, wouldn’t it? Some of you will know what you want to do but others won’t, and that is ok. There are people in their 60s still trying to figure out what they want to do and few career paths follow a straight line! Think about what you are good at and, more importantly, what you enjoy. Speak to people about their different industries or test out careers through volunteer and temporary/contract work.

2. Network

The reason why you have heard this advice so many times is because it’s true, especially in Vancouver.  Building, using and maintaining an effective network is the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful job search in today’s market. Networking doesn’t have to take place at an official networking event. Meet as many people as you can and let them know the type of work you are looking for. A job search is not the time to be shy!

3. Clean up your online presence

Have you Googled yourself lately? You should as 90% of employers now Google applicants during the recruitment process. If you find anything that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see (i.e. party photos, beach photos, strong political opinions, blogs criticizing previous employers), get rid of it.  Make sure all of your social networks are set to private and remove anything that could discourage an employer from contacting you (even from sites with privacy settings, it’s better to be safe than sorry).

4. Get on LinkedIn

Don’t underestimate the power of this professional social media site. Being a professional who is not on LinkedIn is like being a student who is not on Facebook. Create a professional profile that showcases your skills, abilities and experience, but don’t stop there. The real benefits of LinkedIn starts when you start to interact: join groups; participate in discussions; connect with individuals; and follow companies.  Not sure about LinkedIn? Email ses@capilanou.ca for LinkedIn profile advice. 

5. Update your resumé

Even in today’s digital age, you will need a resumé to get an interview. Today’s winning resumés are concise, strategic and relevant for one specific position. On average, employers only spend six seconds reviewing a resumé, so they have to be able to see what they want immediately. Check out these resumé writing resources or email ses@capilanou.ca for a resumé review. 

6. Don’t forget the cover letter

Cover letters are important and can be the difference between being put into the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ pile. A winning cover letter is not just a cover page or a repeat of your resumé. In a market where employers are concerned about the writing skills of new grads, think of it as a sample work project—so no typos or grammar errors! A cover letter should make the employer feel like they are the only organization you would want to work for and tell them a story that clearly explains how you have the skills that they want. Take a look at these cover letter writing resources or email ses@capilanou.ca for a cover letter review.

7. Practice, practice, practice

Interviews are not the time to wing it. Before you go, thoroughly research the organization and practice answering typical interview questions. Employers confirm that a candidate who is prepared and knows a lot of information about their organization is more likely to be hired than one who is not. It is obvious when an interview candidate is unprepared and it will make you look lazy—not the type of person that someone wants to hire.  Email ses@capilanou.ca to set up a mock interview or read this interview advice.

8. Time for a makeover

To be taken seriously at interviews and networking events, you have to look like you should be there.  Invest in an interview outfit that can be adapted for different events (there is no need to buy multiple outfits until you know where you will be working and what the dress code of the organization will be). Opt for a well-fitting, dark coloured pant/skirt suit (black, navy or dark grey) that can be worn with various shirts and, if necessary for men, a tie. Shoes should be simple, dark coloured, polished and, ladies take note, not too high (there should be no clubbing shoes at an interview!).

9. It’s all about them

During the job search process you should emphasize what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you. The job might be a stepping stone to a more lucrative role, it might let you develop the skills that you need for promotion, or it might provide benefits that you have always dreamed of.  However, you should never mention this during your job search.  An employer wants to hire someone who can do the job, will stay in the job and make their job easier.  Let them know that you can do this.

10. Don’t panic!

If you don’t know what you want to do with your career, don’t panic! You are not alone. Student Employment Services is here to support Capilano University students and alumni get a job.

Contact Student Employment Services 

Email: ses@capilanou.ca
Web: www.capilanou.ca/ses
Facebook: www.facebook.com/capilanouses
Twitter: @SESatCapU
Phone: 604.984.4965

Drop in: Birch building, room 270C (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday)

Submitted by Student Employment Services