Make Headway Before Homecoming: Three Tips To Boost Your Job Search This Fall

Are you psyched to be back in school with your friends? You never want college to end, right? Unfortunately, graduation is coming sooner than you think. The idea of getting a job may feel far off right now, but taking a few simple steps this fall will make your job (or internship) search much easier. It will also calm down your parents and give you something positive to report at Thanksgiving.

Here are three things to do in the next few weeks that won't take much time, but they’ll definitely pay off later.

Get Your LinkedIn Page Up -- or Up To Date -- Now

Would you date someone you couldn't find on Facebook or Instagram? I doubt it! Well, if you're not on LinkedIn, most employers won't take you seriously either. LinkedIn is sometimes called "Facebook for grownups." By the time you're a junior, almost everybody who is going to interview you for a job or an internship will look for you on LinkedIn.

Setting up an account on LinkedIn is pretty easy, but filling out your profile takes some time and thought. (Warning: LinkedIn’s Help features may not be as useful as needed for those just getting oriented, so consider alternate resources.)

For tips on how to get started: (1) ask your school's career center for some coaching; (2) see my book "Graduate to a Great Job"; (3) spend three bucks on a book like LinkedIn Revealed ; or (4) try LinkedIn help at

Filling out your profile is an ongoing process. You don't have to do it all at once. Be sure to include recommendations from your summer job or internship. If you forgot to get them, go back now, while your performance is still fresh in your employer's mind. Don't wait! You can even offer to provide a rough draft of a recommendation for them if they're super busy. That's not cheating!

Learn More About Career Center Resources

Swing by your school’s career center. Better yet, make an appointment. Ask a counselor how the most successful students use the center's resources. (They’ll be impressed by this question!) Taylor was a psychology major who landed a job with an investment bank after graduating from the University of Illinois. When I interviewed her for Graduate to a Great Job, she said:

I wish I had been more open-minded. Learn about the career services your school offers right away. Don’t put it off. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, start to learn how to do a search. It will help you when you’re a senior.

You want to find out early about career fairs, visits by recruiters, and ways to learn more about topics such as interviewing and resume writing. Missing an event that can boost your job search really sucks. But it's easy to miss things this time of year when so many on campus organizations are bombarding you with emails and texts. Make it a priority to become familiar with how career services can help you. Investing half an hour this fall will pay huge dividends later.

Schedule Two Informational Interviews Each Month

Nothing moves your job search along faster than conversations with people working in fields you might be interested in. You've got to know about -- and use -- "informational interviews" to be successful in developing a career today. These conversations will help you learn how to break into a particular field, what it's like to work there, and who to talk to about specific job opportunities.

The cool thing about informational interviews is you're not asking for a job, so people are usually glad to meet with you. And as people get to know you in casual conversation, they are much more likely to want to help you in your job search. For more on getting started with informational interviews, see a previous post “Start Landing Interviews Now.”

Maybe you’re excited about the idea of graduating and moving on to your next adventure. Or maybe you’re petrified that college is going to end. Either way, you’ll make things a lot easier on yourself if you spend 30-60 minutes a week this fall taking action to influence your options next summer.