Blog > 6 Months Too Late

6 Months Too Late

by Larry Iles, posted on July 24, 2018

As students walked across their respective convocation stages this past spring, they may have been thinking “now I need to start applying to career type jobs” Sorry folks, but you are 6 months too late. 

 In 2017 more than half of Canadians 25-64 had either a college diploma or university degree. This is fantastic for our country; however, it creates an extremely competitive job market after graduation. Despite low unemployment rates in Canada, the fact we have so many educated citizens creates high unemployment in some sectors. Thus, despite the low rates, Canada has a competitive job market in many fields. If we accept the premise it is a competitive job market, the new grad needs to think backward. The new grad needs to develop a backward design for their career search. What I mean by this is; students should begin an active career search 6-8 month prior to graduation. 

 Grads need to begin their career search early as the search and hiring process takes time. A recent MBA graduate related over 6 months they submitted 189 resumes, received 5 interviews which resulted in one offer. Six months prior to graduation is not unreasonable to begin the search. Consider the time it takes a company to post, review resumes, pre-screen, interview (multiple candidates), and make an offer. For some companies, the entire process can take months. Many large companies begin their search for new grads as early as November each year, for positions that would start in the following May. Soon to be graduates that wait until they cross the stage miss out on 100’s of positions that were posted months before graduation. The goal of career services in post-secondary is to mitigate against these mistakes. 

Soon to be grads follow some of these steps.

  • Prior to the final year in school, a student should begin researching possible career positions for new grads. 
  • Use critical thinking skills. Analyze job descriptions, consider the skills required. If enough job descriptions are read patterns will emerge. Patterns for skills, job duties, educational requirements. 
  • Track the patterns in job descriptions and reflect how well you have the key areas-if students do not have many of the key areas-they still have time to fill in gaps through projects, clubs, and volunteerism.
  • Based on the research, students can develop a backward resume. Write a resume needed at graduation in order to be competitive for the positions of interest. Highlight skill and educational areas that may be lacking and develop a plan to fill the gaps
  • Use LinkedIn Alumni-LinkedIn has buried this feature from their main menu. Students can search for their school. There, students will find a treasure trove of connections of alumni that graduated from their school and program. Students will be able to see where alumni work, what they do, whom they work for, etc. From this research, a soon to be grad can begin to build a contact network to ask for career information. Alumni like to help fellow alumni.
  • Finally, 6-8 months prior to graduation, begin an earnest a serious career job search-consider this as a 6th course for the last semester. Apply to everything that matches personal interests and education. 

Remember “if you don’t apply the answer will always be no”

Larry Iles has been a Co-op Coordinator and a Career Counselor for 22 years at Thompson Rivers University in sunny Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
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