College grads: Are you prepared for professional employment?

Now is the time to seek out employment that will allow you to put your knowledge and skills to work.

"Congratulations!!" is a word you've probably heard a lot lately. And it's not unwarranted – after all, you worked your butt off through classes and assignments to earn your degree. You deserve a little recognition!

But, the hard work isn't over yet – in fact, it's just begun! Those loans are going to be due soon, and now's the time to seek out a position that will allow you to put all the skills you learned during your college courses to the test.

Professional employment: It's much different than college

Work life will bring stark changes in comparison to what you've been used to during your college days. Not only will new responsibilities emerge, but you'll also be expected to act and carry yourself in a more mature and professional manner.

Here's a few factors to be aware of as you head into the world of professional employment:

  • It may take you a little while to get going – and that's okay. According to a survey conducted by author and Harvard Business Review contributor Jeffrey J. Selingo, 33 percent of all recent grads "press pause" after college, and spend most of their twenties working toward starting their professional career. Thirty-two percent spend about half of their twenties getting going, and only about 35 percent jump right into a career after graduation.
  • Time management and scheduling matters. As Live Career noted, if you treat a job like that dreaded 8 AM course you took your freshman year and continually show up late, you'll be unemployed sooner than you think.
  • Personal accountability is important. Whereas in college, where a wrong answer or misstep would earn you a bad grade or slap on the wrist, professional employment calls for more responsibility. Clients and co-workers rely on you to further your company's mission and complete important tasks on time. 
  • Flex your skills, but remain humble and be ready to learn. College has taught you a lot about the career field you're aiming for, but there will be much more to learn and experience on the job.
Group of professionally dressed young adults with their arms up, cheering. Recent graduates: Are you ready to enter the professional job market?

Interviewing and onboarding

As a recent college graduate, chances are good that you'll go on plenty of interviews before landing a position. Don't be discouraged – this is all good practice, even if you don't receive a call back.

It's important to be prepared and professional in the interview process. This includes creating a resume, cover letter and other important documents and being ready to talk about your experiences, skills and accomplishments.

And once you've successfully achieved employment, you'll go through the onboarding process. While it's not the same for every job, your employer's HR team will walk you through your new responsibilities, the overall company and the business's culture. A few words of advice here:

  • Pay attention and ask questions. As College Recruiter noted, some orientation and onboarding may seem dry, but the information is important. Don't glaze over, and be sure to ask about anything you're unsure of or need clarification on.
  • Get to know your HR team. This won't be the only time you interact with the HR team, so use this time to get to know your representatives and the types of benefits and services they direct within the company.

Congratulations and good luck on the road to professional employment!


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