After interviewing thousands of entry level applicants, we've noticed some unfortunately common issues that college grads have when it comes to interviewing and applying for jobs. The crazy part is most of this stuff is basic!
We think college and university career centers could be doing a better job at prepping their soon-to-be graduates, so without further delay here are:
3 Super Easy Ways Career Centers can Better Prepare Students for the Professional World
1: Creating a Professional Linkedin Profile Picture
When I graduated I thought LinkedIn was headed the same direction MySpace went, so I gave it no mind. For 10 years I had a profile picture of my face cropped from a group shot from a summer outing, complete with a sequined headband. It was only with my latest move to LaunchSource that I updated my profile picture to accurately represent my professionalism on LinkedIn. Still not a full suit and professionally done, but we used a decent camera, set it up with good lighting, and found an appropriate backdrop. It was easy!
The advice to career centers: Invest in a professional backdrop, a digital camera, some lighting, and a designated space to take headshots. Invite your graduating seniors in and help them look like a million bucks!
2: Ditching the .edu Email Address
I loved my email address from college. It was long and hard to spell, but to me it represented these monumental 4 years of my life where I was in campus clubs and I had friends in my classes, and this email address was my identity in that world. Little did I know, the University of Arizona cut off my access like 6 months after graduation. I also didn’t realize that there were email platforms that were WAY more easy to use than that clunky .edu account (no offense!)
My google account was free, also offered document access, cloud storage, and a calendar platform all in one login account. AND IT WAS FREE. If someone had told me that I’d not only be more productive but also seemingly more professional during my job search by starting off with a gmail.com or outlook.com account, I’d have ditched @webmail.arizona.edu and its hard to type unnecessarily long domain way back in senior year.
The advice to career centers: Simple. Encourage your students to choose a modern, free email platform that incorporates a calendar. Then use the professional head shot you just took as the profile image, because as much as you want to promote your school, nothing shouts “inexperienced” quite like a .edu address.
3: Setting Up a voicemail greeting and ring tone.
I went through a Zac Brown Band, “Chicken Fried” phase in late college and I may or may not have expressed my love of them to my friends when they were waiting for me to answer my cell phone via a sick ring-back tone that cost me $.99 at the time.
It wasn’t until my first boss after college called me one morning with a change in my schedule that I realized my ringback tone had to go. Listen, we all love a little Queen Bey in our lives and who doesn’t love a little “All the Single Ladies” when you’re leaving a message for your BFFL?
But, as someone who’s tried to call candidates who forget how they set up their phone sophomore year, those ringback tones aren’t a great look, and if your voicemail message is anything but you saying your name and that you’ll call me back as soon as you get a chance, I’m not leaving a voicemail.
I wonder how many people didn’t even give me a the chance to tell them about myself after getting my voicemail in those early post-grad days?
Advice to career centers: Your students likely don’t leave voicemails that often, or ever, but recruiters sure do! Coach them on how to record a clear and professional voicemail greeting including their name and when to expect to hear back from them.
It might not be the most mind-blowing advice, but the little details matter and could lead to a foot in the door for college graduates looking for their first job.