Prepare for your career before school ends

Graduates are having more difficulty finding a job during this recession because there are so many well-qualified, experienced professionals who are out of work. Since companies are going to be trimming down long after this recession is over, the competition for jobs is likely to remain very strong. I received the following letter in response to a recent column about graduates who are looking for a job in business. I think the advice is worth reading -whether you are a student or a parent.

Dear Joan:
Your recent article on how to dress for the interview for young women about to enter the work force was excellent.

I am actively involved in counseling students as the Director of Advising for the majors in our Business Administration, Managerial Accounting and Economics programs at UW-Stevens Point. Part of my responsibility to the students is facilitating their career as well as academic development.

For the past few years, I have become increasingly aware that too many students are waiting until their Senior year, and many until near or after graduation, to prepare their resumes and conscientiously begin their job search. In the letter you answered, the requester noted that "My daughter has just graduated from college and she is looking for a job in business." It was that statement which prompted this letter. I strongly believe that we must take every opportunity to encourage our students to begin their post graduation planning even as they enter their college or university. Recruiters with whom I have frequent contact share my concern that many students are waiting too long to begin their preparation.

Today, recruiters in their search for ideal candidates may be more concerned with a myriad of factors such as proficiency in written and oral communications, interpersonal skills, demonstrated leadership and trainability then they may be concerned about academic performance. Certainly being an excellent time manager is also a strong credential. As the job market for "middle managers" continues to shrink it is ever more important that students receive this "Reality 101" lecture early and often.

For future articles I would suggest that your readers be encouraged to begin career planning early on. Young women as well as men should buy an outfit or two and try them out--the heels, ties, dress shirts, etc. There is nothing worse than trying to get ready for an interview and you've never tied a tie or walked in heels for a day. Students should be looking for internship opportunities closely related to their expected career field. Some experience in at least one foreign language as well as a "semester abroad" which may be business related will help differentiate the new graduate from their peers. Advise student to prepare their resume as juniors.

Students should seek leadership positions in career related student clubs and organizations. Also active participation in student government, career related work and/or community service can be important. I recommend Toast Masters or similar experiences to develop public communication skills. Developing good rapport with instructors and supervisors is needed for their reference list. My topic list is certainly not an exhaustive list but a good start.

I feel strongly that students, and their parents, need to be acutely aware of the need to begin the job search and networking efforts much earlier than the few weeks before or certainly never after graduation. You can help to send that message.

Professor Richard B. Judy Ph.D.
Professor or Business, Management and Director of Advising, and the Small Business Institute Program

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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