As a soon-to-be college graduate, there is plenty of reason for excitement and optimism. The economy is recovering, and companies are heavily investing in their workforces. But for many graduates, the opportunities ahead may seem both endless and elusive, making it incredibly challenging to identify and build a successful career path.     

So how do you land not just any job, but the right job? How do you start a meaningful career where you’ll be engaged, challenged and valued? At ETS, our recruiters take the time to understand your career vision and develop a strategy to make it a reality. Not only will they be a partner in your ongoing career success, they will also give you confidential advice and guidance throughout the process.

Whether you’re putting your cap and gown on in a few months, graduated last year, or frankly, are just sick of your parents asking what’s new on the career front, take a look at some of our recruiters top tips on positioning yourself to land a job straight out of college.

Hone your Message
Prepare for the job search like you would for a test. Make sure to modernize your resume, head into interviews prepared with questions that show you’re actively interested in the organization and knowledgeable about the industry, and be sure to clean up your online persona. Every person is a brand, and it’s important to understand how you want to be perceived. From there you can come up with a strategic plan to create your brand and make sure your arsenal of job search tools reinforce that.

Start Early
It’s never too early to start the job search process. The students who spend time researching career options will be well ahead of their peers in the long run. Make the most of your senior year by attending career fairs, proactively investigate career opportunities, and growing your network.

Have Reasonable Expectations
Find the balance between quantity and quality in the job search. It’s hard to stick out from the pack of other applicants when you’re trying to be all things to all people, and apply to “as many jobs as you can in a day.” Not to mention you can’t properly research and follow up with hundreds of job applications. Instead, invest the time to target a few key opportunities and roles. It can be incredibly frustrating not to find immediate success right out of college, but the hiring picture is ever changing, and jobs open up all the time. Spend some time researching companies to better understand how your skills and background might make a good fit for a given job, and get an idea of how you’d fit into a company culture.

Communicate Effectively
Graduates can stand out in this aspect by speaking clearly about their relevant work experience and applicable skills, extracurricular activities, and why they think they would be a good fit for the position. Most graduates think of a job in terms of its job description, but the reality of work can differ significantly. Regardless of the field you choose, make sure to understand what roles will actually be like after you secure the job. The best way to gain this insight is to identify individuals with job titles that interest you (resist the urge to pick senior people – selecting people at or close to entry level jobs will give you a much more realistic sense of the position) and ask if they would be open to a quick conversation. Focus on asking questions about what their average day looks like, these questions will give you a real sense for what it’s like to actually do a given job.

Don’t Rely on your Degree
In many industries, experience and skills are for more important than the subject listed on your diploma. As you finish college and begin your job search, continue to build upon the skills you have obtained during your schooling. Set the stage to become a lifelong learner, and take on new activities to keep yourself challenged.

Don’t Forget your Manners
Never underestimate the power of being polite. Simple courtesy will put you above the vast majority of applicants. Whether that’s sending a thank you note after a job interview or treating everyone you interact with as though they are your interviewer. You have to demonstrate that you are someone that team members would enjoy working with. So be nice and gracious to everyone you meet: It will pay off for many years to come.

There is no better time than the present to start pursuing your career path. Be confident in the fact that you’ve got skills, and know that ETS has the hookup. There are a ton of great companies looking for people with skills like yours. How do we know? Well, because we work with them. Start a relationship with one of our recruiters today and get noticed by the right people.