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February 27, 2003

Student Career Development

Need to launch your career? It's a daunting task; however, experts say that if you break a task down into digestible bites, it doesn't seem quite so overwhelming. That's the idea behind this Career Planning and Job-Search Calendar -- to break down the task of starting your career into monthly components.

    January -- February

  • Ask yourself where you are in your career, where you are headed, and where you want to be.

  • This is also a good time to take steps toward both short- and long-term career planning.

  • Set a course for yourself for the next year (and perhaps the rest of your life) by writing a personal mission statement.

  • If you think you might need some outside guidance in getting your career on track and achieving balance in your career and personal life, make an appointment with the Career Development Center.

  • Network! It's the most effective way to get a job or change careers. Tell everyone you know you're looking for a new job or career and ask for advice and referrals (don't ask for a job!).

  • Get to know yourself better. Take some assessments to learn more about your skills, interests, personality, and values.

  • If you don't already do so, start tracking your accomplishments in your current job and brainstorming achievements from your past jobs or from your education. This information will be important when you start sending out resumes and cover letters and going on interviews.

  • Start thinking about your resume. Start thinking about cover letters. Your cover letter and resume should be specific for every job you apply for, but you can write the basic "guts" of your documents so you'll have something you can adapt for each job.

February -- March

  • Work on identifying the skills you possess that are transferable and applicable to multiple jobs and careers. Identifying transferable skills is especially important for job-seekers with minimal experience.

  • Spend the months researching companies and careers, critical preparatory steps both in planning your job search and which companies you'll apply to and later when you prepare for interviews.

March -- April

  • Review the list of companies you researched earlier and narrow it down to those you'd really like to work for so you can target them in your job search. Twenty companies is a good goal to shoot for. Work on identifying hiring managers for the companies you've decided to target.

  • Begin to explore a technique that's a highly effective subset of networking -- informational interviewing. Conduct informational interviews at the companies you've targeted.

  • Summer is a surprisingly great time to network, so take advantage of this time to network as much as you can.

May -- June

  • Since about 80 percent of employers now want resumes to be sent to them online, you'll need a text version of your resume for at least some of those submissions (for others, employers will ask you to send your resume as an attachment, usually as a Microsoft Word document).

  • Begin to learn everything you can about interviewing so you'll be ready when you start getting called for interviews.

  • Before you go full throttle with your job search, make sure you have all your references lined up.

  • As you prepare for interviews, are you ready to negotiate your compensation package?

  • Consider compiling a portfolio to take to interviews and showcase your skills and accomplishments.

  • Be sure you are poised to write a thank-you note after you go on each job interview.

  • Beyond the thank-you note, be sure you are following up after each interview.

  • Keep networking!

Stacey Brown is Coordinator of the UMBC Career Development Center.

Posted by dwinds1 at February 27, 2003 12:00 AM