If you graduated from college five years ago or longer, you are no longer considered a “recent graduate” and officially have joined the ranks of the “experienced worker” category.
Taking an entry-level job right out of college is quite common, but after a few years of paying your dues and learning the ropes, it may be time for you to start thinking about the larger picture. In other words, getting your second job after your first post-graduate employment.
Fortunately, you are in a much better position than you were right after you graduated. For one thing, you probably have some experience that you can claim. Hopefully, you also have some accomplishments that you can point out to potential employers.
Here are some of the top tips for moving on from your first post-grad job and going after bigger and better things in your career.
Step 1: Map It Out
The best careers have some sort of plan behind them. Rather than simply moving from opportunity to opportunity and letting fate determine where you will be five or ten years from now, take the time to sit down and map out your ideal career.
Sometimes it’s helpful to begin at the end: What type of job would you like to have when you retire? Don’t be afraid to think big. You still have a long career ahead of you and plenty of time to climb the corporate ladder.
Next, work your way back from the top down to where you are now. What steps will you have to take to achieve that career path? In most career paths, there is a hierarchy that typically must be followed. Write down how long you think it will realistically take you to achieve each plateau.
When you are finished, you should have a good idea of which position you need to go after next. Plus, you will have a roadmap you can pull out and refer back to throughout your career.
Step 2: Frame Your Experience So Companies Want to Hire You
If you have not looked for a new job since graduation, it’s probably time to work on your resume. After all, you now have several years’ experience that you can include on it.
When rewriting your resume, make sure you highlight your accomplishments so that potential employers know what you can do, not just what job title you held. Recruiters and human resources officials typically get hundreds of resumes per day. So you are going to need to do something to make yours stand out.
Right after college, your spanking new degree was probably all you had to promote yourself. Now there is so much more you can emphasize to capture the attention of your next potential employer. Use it.
Step 3: Realize the Game Has Changed
While social media existed five years ago, it has evolved and expanded exponentially since you graduated from college.
Now is the time to go back and revise all of your social profiles – including everything from Facebook to LinkedIn to Snapchat to Twitter. Potential employers will now routinely check out the social media pages of prospective employees, so you will want to delete all those pictures of you at your fraternity’s toga party and replace them with images that project you in the best possible light.
The message you want to convey in your social media accounts is no longer, “I’m a college graduate!” but “I am a young, capable and ambitious professional who is serious about my career.”
Step 4: Break Out the Alumni Directory
You have made great progress over the past several years as you were starting out your careers. And probably, so have your classmates.
Take maximum advantage of your alumni network. Odds are there are at least a few people working within your industry who can point you in the right direction or give you a glowing recommendation.
Check with your college’s alumni office or use social media sites such as LinkedIn that provide access to alumni groups.
See if there is an alumni club in your city and become active with it. This type of networking is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make valuable business contacts because you already have something in common with these people.
Step 5: Grow Up
As the Bible says, when you were a child you acted like a child. But now is the time to put away your childish things and begin acting like a grown-up.
While hiring for entry level jobs, companies are often willing to put up with somewhat juvenile attitudes. But for the fast-paced career track, most employers want people who are serious, ambitious and mature. When you interview for your next job, make sure you are projecting the image of someone who is responsible, smart and – most of all – successful.