The job market is changing each year, and it can be difficult for young people to know what to expect once they graduate high school and/or college. Also, with more pathways to higher education and careers opening up by the day, more people have opportunities. This means that competition in many areas of the job market is fierce. If you’re a student coming out of high school or college (or know someone who is), here is some practical advice on how to get started in a successful career.

The First Impression: The Resume

In many cases, your resume is the first impression you will give to a potential employer. Your resume should be memorable and eye-catching so that you stand out amongst other applicants. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, try an online resume template that will help you build a professional resume you can curate your personal information and make your own. The perfect resume will show your best qualifications, address all the questions an employer would have, highlight your education and work experience in a positive light, use keywords, and be a good length (not too long, not too short). The perfect resume can help you get your foot in the door, get you that interview, and land you that dream job.

It’s Who You Know: Networking

Finding the right job and growing in that job can be achieved through networking. Establishing an excellent and diverse personal and professional network will link you with the right people, get you raving recommendations, link you with new people, create mentorships, promote your business through word of mouth, and serve as a source for referrals. If you are a high school or college student, spend time developing relationships with fellow students, teachers/professors, staff, and volunteers, as well as maintaining an online presence. Tackle any hesitations you might have about networking and put yourself out there by joining the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and attending various networking events. Who you know can be key to your success.

Practice Makes Perfect: Internships and Volunteering

Experience not only makes you a better and desirable candidate for a job, but it also helps you grow and determine what you like to do and what you are good at. While paid jobs give you an income and provide growth, internships are an amazing tool for professional growth because they are geared toward your growth and increasing your knowledge. The perfect internship is out there to help you grow in the professional field; you just have to find it. Internships can be found through your school, social media, family, friends, company websites, and job postings.

Similar to internships, volunteering can also provide you with valuable experience. Volunteering will enrich your life and give you an invaluable perspective. In addition to the service you provide others, it will give you perspective into what you enjoy doing, steer you toward your purpose, create wonderful connections, and increase your knowledge.

Suit Up: Interviews

Once you have landed the interview, it’s time to get to work on preparing for your best presentation. Start by picking out a professional outfit that is clean and form-fitting. Before the interview, research some practice questions and develop answers that highlight your interest, experience, and goals. Prior to the interview prepare a handwritten thank you card to the interviewer(s), thanking them for their time and consideration, which you can then drop off in the mailbox right after your interview. During the interview, take the time to think about the question, breathe, and with consideration and ease answer without slang and filler words (i.e. “um”).

The evolution of the job market never stops, but some principles will always apply when you’re beginning a successful career. Be sure to craft a stellar resume and build your network. Apply for internships and volunteer to gain knowledge and perspective. Prepare for your interview(s) so that you can present yourself in the best light possible. Most important of all: believe in yourself and work harder than everyone else.