You are officially a graduate, congratulations! Now what? If you thought having a virtual ceremony was tough, you might think finding a job will be impossible. Don’t worry, we’ve got some useful tips and great advice from Jennifer Parker, Marketing Management Consultant at Nationwide, to help you take the first steps down your career path. After all, you have everything you need to get started, dreams, drive—and a brand-new diploma.

Set Your Goals. “Greatness is not a destination but a journey that requires living out our purpose with intentionality and persistence,” says Jennifer, “but you must first ask yourself what greatness looks like for you.” So, before you do anything else, you need to set goals to know what you are working towards. And that starts with defining them. ‘Finding a job’ is too broad of a goal, you need to get specific. “In my pursuit of greatness, I entered my last year of graduate school being more intentional in my job search than times before. I was more introspective about my needs as I focused with more clarity on my career goals and the career trajectory I sought. I did the hard, self-reflective work on the front end and outlined the core things that were essential to me, regarding the type of job I wanted and the type of company for which I wanted to work” says Jennifer. And you can do this too. Put it down on paper and develop a realistic timeline with built-in check-in points. Print it out and hang it somewhere that you can see each day to remind you of where you’re going.

Jennifer Parker, Marketing Management Consultant at Nationwide

Establish Yourself. Creating an online professional identity for yourself is essential when you are job hunting. Sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor are not just for people already in the workforce. They are designed to make connections at every level of employment. So, snap a great picture and create a profile that features your experience from internships, part-time jobs, and summer gigs. Experiment with search words and terms to see what you can and should be including in your descriptions to meet the criteria of someone looking to fill your dream job. 

Network, Network, Network. Use that online profile to reach out to people on social media and job sites as well as your family, friends, teachers, counselors, coaches, and more! Plus, look into online group meetings that are taking the place of traditional networking events. At the beginning of the pandemic, it felt difficult to connect, but now you can expand your circle to make connections locally, nationally, and globally. When you meet someone new, ask for their advice and their email—you’ll find most people are happy to make introductions to employers, recruiters, or networking groups. Always take the meeting, join the group, or write the email because you never know where it will lead, but don’t forget to follow up! Most people don’t follow up, so when you do, they remember it. 

Find Your Place. Identify and research prospective employers that may be a good fit for you. “I identified and researched prospective corporate employers and job opportunities that I thought would be a good fit for me. I met with various employees across companies to understand if the website descriptions matched the corporate culture and to gain visibility into the career trajectory for someone in the positions in which I had interest,” says Jennifer. “I remember the moment I knew Nationwide was going to be my next employment home. It was when I recognized the compatibility of its corporate culture with my career and personal aspirations, combined with believing that I would be valued, challenged, able to contribute to the company, and to make a difference while being my authentic self. That is important.”

Launch Your Career. The biggest brand launch you will ever work on is about to happen—that brand is you. All the work you did on your resume, profile, and networking will soon lead you to an interview—this is your opportunity to tell your personal brand story. Showcase your skills, highlight your goals, and what unique attributes you can bring to their company, do it enthusiastically and authentically. It may feel strange at first, especially if it is a virtual interview, but they want to hear about all the great things you bring to the table, they invited you to be there. 

When you do land your dream gig, keep in mind that there is no perfect work situation. There will still be days when you want to hit snooze on the alarm, but when you really love what you do, there will be many more days when you wake up feeling energized and excited about your work, your career, and your journey. According to Jennifer, the key is to know yourself, outline your goals and develop a flexible plan. And as her father always says, “work your plan, baby girl!”

Visit nationwide.com/diversity to see how we foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.

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