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You earned your degree and now you have the skills and knowledge you need to pursue your professional goals. The only problem is that you might not be sure where to start. If you’re a new grad (or you’re about to be), these tips can help you make progress toward finding and landing the job you’re looking for!

1. Set small, measurable goals

It’s great to have a vision and a direction you know you want to go in, but it’s also helpful to break down your one big goal into smaller, more measurable action items you can complete in a specified timeframe. Some example goals might include:

  • Update my LinkedIn profile by Friday
  • Schedule a meeting with my manager to discuss my career path
  • Spend 5 hours this week editing my resume
  • Identify 7 jobs or companies I’m interested in by Sunday
  • Apply to 5 jobs this week
  • Attend 4 networking events this month

Obviously, your goals will be custom to your situation, but giving yourself clear next steps will get you moving in the right direction.

2. Focus your attention

This may sound obvious, but it’s a mistake that’s easy to make: don’t waste your time applying to jobs you don’t really want. Take your time to think about what it is you’re looking for in a company and a job. Focus your energy on finding and securing the role that will make you happy and be the best match for your skillset, rather than just sending out applications to every possible organization that appears in your job search.

3. Utilize your network

In addition to helping you hone your skills, earning a degree can be a great way to build your network. In most degree programs, you’ll have had a chance to interact with instructors, classmates, industry professionals, and even alumni. Now is the time to reach out to those people and the rest of the network you’ve built up over the years. Spread the news that you’re seeking your next opportunity and see if anyone has advice or knows of any interesting openings. Perhaps some of the people you’ve worked with could even give you a LinkedIn recommendation that tells employers what you bring to the table. (Remember though, having a network is all about supporting each other, so be prepared to return the favor in the future!)

4. Show up ready to impress

When you do land an interview for a role you want, be ready to make an impression. Research the role and company so that you understand how you could fit in and support their goals. Before the interview, practice answering common interview questions and write down the questions you want to ask the interviewer. (Yes, you should have questions. You want to make sure the job is a good fit for you just like the organization wants to know that you’re a good fit for them.) Be ready to explain why your skills, experience, education, personality traits and passion for the work make you the perfect candidate. After the interview, send a thank you note thanking the interviewer for their time and briefly reiterating why you’re the right one for the job.

5. Be prepared to discuss salary

Maybe not right away, but, eventually, the topic of salary will come up. Do your research in advance to determine the local or regional average wage for a person with your skills, education and experience in that type of role. You’ll also want to weigh any additional benefits the organization may offer when determining what a fair number is. When an organization does give you an offer, you may not want to settle for the first thing on the table, so be prepared to negotiate. Future raises will be based off of your initial salary, so the higher you start out, the more you may be able to earn in the future.

Are you a new South University grad or getting ready to graduate?

Connect with our Career Services Department! The South University Career Services Department partners with students to explore their career potential, and works with them to build their professional brand throughout their educational journey. Our goal is to encourage the career potential of students by facilitating opportunities to explore their interests and gain valuable professional experience. Both students and alumni also have access to the South EDGE platform, which features a plethora of videos and activities available at no cost. Information about the South EDGE platform and other online resources for alumni is located in the Your Career section of our Alumni Connections site.