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12 Ways to Be Career Focused in 2013

By Guest Blogger Trish Freshwater, Senior Communications Manager for Talent Acquisition at Sodexo. Originally posted on the Student Branding Blog.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I’m not one for listing specific things I want to change or do in the upcoming year. Instead, I prefer to come up with a theme so that I can use a number of mini successes to meet my resolution goal. So, if my theme is “health,” actions that improve my diet or increase exercise will count towards my resolution without feeling guilty if I don’t complete a specific task. There are lots paths to success!

As we dive in to 2013, why not make it the year to focus on your future career? Being career-minded this year might be the best way to lay the foundation for your career after graduation. There are lots of things you can do to keep your resolution all year through. Here are 12 suggestions – one activity for each month.

1) Write or Polish Your Resume – Have you written your resume yet? Is it the best it can be? Take some time to ensure that you’re using keywords and that your resume describes your accomplishments, not just your duties for each job. Also, stop by the Career Services office on campus; they can proofread your resume and offer tips to improve it!

2) Update Your Social Profiles – Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Is your Twitter profile up to date? Why not use the same professional-looking headshot on all of your profiles to help build your brand visually. Also, take a look to make sure you’ve updated information about recent internships or newly-held positions in campus organizations. Another tip: review your Facebook page from a recruiter’s perspective. Should anything be hidden from public view? Use your privacy settings to control who sees updates, pictures and links on your page.

3) Get Involved! Volunteer or Get a Part-Time Job – There’s no better way to gain experience now, while you’re in school, than by volunteering for an organization or getting a part-time job. Even if the work is not in your major field, you can still gain valuable leadership, organizational and team working skills.

4) Get an Internship – Ah, the coveted internship! Now’s a great time to start researching internship opportunities for the summer. The best positions are often filled early, so start looking now and formalize your summer plans.

5) Get a MentorA mentor is a person who can guide you as you develop your career plans and gain experience. He or she can connect you with others in your field, recommend classes to take or even help you find an internship, part-time job or volunteer opportunity.

6) Brush Up Your Speaking Skills – Almost all professional jobs require you to speak in front of an audience at one time or another. And, most people find this task a little scary in the beginning. The best way to get over stage fright is to practice, practice, practice. Take a public speaking class or sign up for a Toastmasters group in your area. It might be one of the best things you can do this year!

7) Gain Leadership Skills – Can you lead a project from concept to implementation? Have you ever led a team? Start building these and other transferable skills now by volunteering to lead group projects in your classes, run for a leadership position in your fraternity/sorority or other school group, or ask to lead a project at your internship. Building these skills now will lead to a lifetime of career building.

8) Network Online – In today’s digital world, being online is important not only for information gathering, but for meeting others and networking, too. Get active on Twitter by following others in your field or join LinkedIn groups where you can contribute your own expertise. The people you interact with could become future mentors or even individuals who can lead you to a future internship or job.

9) Attend Networking Events – Even in our digital world, there’s nothing better than face-to-face networking. Career Fairs are a natural fit for students. But, why not consider events sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce? Or, volunteer to help coordinate a local charity event. Also, many professional organizations have student chapters at college campuses – like the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality or the Public Relations Society of America. Getting involved in these campus-based organizations can help you connect with professionals in your area. The people you meet in the community could become valuable as you launch your career post-graduation.

10) Prepare for Interviews – The best way to ace an interview is to be prepared and practice, practice, practice. Read some tips on how to prepare for phone interviews and face-to-face interviews. Also, ask if your Career Services office on campus offers mock interviews – these are a great way to practice and prepare for your first interview.

11) Research Potential Companies – Graduation may be a semester or even a year away. But, now is a great time to start researching companies that offer positions in your field. Take the time to find a few companies that match your career interests and begin learning more about their values, goals and mission. You may even consider reaching out to their recruiters for an informational interview to help put you on their radar for entry-level openings after graduation.

12) Use Social Media in Your Job Search – It’s likely that you’ll start your job search long before graduation. Traditional job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster are great – but don’t underestimate the power of social media in your job search. There are many ways that you can interact with recruiters and get job listings that may not be posted to the job boards.

Whether you accomplish all 12 items or you focus on three or four, making 2013 career focused isn’t that hard to accomplish. For once, you have a New Year’s Resolution you can keep!

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