School is about to be let out for the holidays and with all your exams and cramming coming to an end, you’ll suddenly find yourself with some extra time for a few weeks.
While it might be tempting to kick back, relax and drink eggnog for the whole winter break, a better idea would be to use the extra time to get ahead in your job hunt.
To help you make the most of your holidays this year, here are 5 key things you should add to your job search to-do list.
Audit & revise your resume
Instead of waiting until the last minute to work on your resume, take the time now to really focus on making it the best it can be.
First things first, lay out all the things you can include on your resume and determine which ones are the most valuable to your desired field. If you don’t have much industry experience, start by thinking about what transferable skills you gained from previous positions that could be applicable to a role in that field.
Once you know what you want to put on your resume, find or design a template that is professional, yet eye-catching. You don’t need need flashy colours and fonts but, for example, having a header that is a bit different than a plain black title could help you stand out in a sea of applicants.
Last but not least, while you’re surrounded by family and friends over the holidays, get some of them to take a look at your resume and ask them to provide some feedback. Getting another person’s perspective can be valuable since everyone has different preferences and opinions – an extra set of eyes may spot something you alone never would have.
Prepare a “dream job” list
Start off by doing some research on TalentEgg. Engage with employer profiles to learn more about an employer’s culture, opportunities they may have and their overall fit for you based on your future goals and values. Compile all these employers in a list with contact information and notes that will help you remember why you included them.
This list will serve as your database of places you’ll want to reach out to after winter break. Remember, many offices close during December so waiting to send emails until the new year will help ensure your message doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Lastly, don’t forget to update your notes in your database as you reach out to each of these organizations. Include the date you reached out, if you heard back and when, and any other details from your interactions. It’s easy for all these details to get lost when you’re job-hunting, and you don’t want to be that person who reaches out to the same place twice due to a careless mistake.
Clean up your social media presence
It’s pretty obvious why it’s important to have a clean social media presence in this day-in-age, so instead of putting off this task until the new year, get ahead of the game now.
Remove any photos that you wouldn’t want employers to stumble upon – this may include deleting them or untagging yourself. If you don’t already have a professional Twitter account, or don’t want to start one, clean up your existing one so it has an informative bio, professional photo, and tweets that are relevant to your future career like sharing industry articles. Last but not least, update or create a LinkedIn profile that reflects your experiences and accomplishments and find people in your network to connect with – this could include classmates, professors, or even past bosses and coworkers!
Work on your portfolio
When you’re in school, you’re likely too swamped with assignments to really reflect on all the work you’ve done in the past semester and everything you’ve learned. Luckily, the winter break is the perfect time to take stock of your recent accomplishments and make sure they’re highlighted in your portfolio.
First, determine what pieces of work best showcase your strengths and abilities. In short, ask yourself: what are you most proud of? If there are areas you need to improve upon, take some time to work on creating documents to support this to add to your portfolio over your break. Lastly, while you’re at home, have some people in your family look at it and provide constructive criticism.
Practice your elevator pitch
This may feel a little silly, but knowing how to articulate and present (or sell) yourself is key for any aspiring professional and for many, it’s easier said than done.
Do some writing exercises to brainstorm the key components of your work experience and background – think about what makes you stand out and the most important things people should know about you. Next, practice putting those things into a short blurb or speech. Try thinking of the answer you would give in an interview when a recruiter asks you: “Tell me about yourself.” In an interview or networking situation, you might get flustered and forget key components, so rehearsing can help you feel more confident.
On top of preparing your elevator pitch, you could also get your older friends and family members to quiz you on typical interview questions. You can never be sure of what they’ll ask you in interviews, but it’s still a good idea to get familiar with answering questions about yourself and your experience.
Now that you’re prepared to be productive this holiday season, you can start 2016 knowing you’re well ahead of the job-hunting game!