Val Matta, CareerShift
Think of your career centers as hidden gold mines: Although they’re there at your disposal, few college students are aware of their advantages. A National Association of College and Employers (NACE) survey showed only 36 percent of students frequently take advantage of career center services. What’s more: 27 percent of graduating seniors who plan on entering the workforce do not make use of their college career centers services. So while many students and young professionals may be aware of their career centers, not all use it as much as they could.
What are some ways to optimize your career center, especially during the job search? Check out these tips:
Find an advisor who understands you
First things first: You have to find a career center advisor who gets you. This is important for a few reasons. First, an advisor who understands your major, your personality, and your career path will be able to steer you in the right direction more efficiently. In addition, when you feel comfortable around these kinds of advisors, you’ll likely be inclined to seek and later take their advice.
Tip: Before you meet with an advisor, research their history and professional background. Then, try to see if your professional interests and values align with theirs, ensuring you find the right match.
Get resume help
About 71.3 percent of those who use career centers take advantage of resume services. Think about it: You have experts at your disposal ready and willing to optimize your application materials. In particular, your resume is usually what a hiring manager or recruiter sees first, so it needs to be at its best.
Tip: The best way to get resume help from a career center to come as prepared as possible. Have a rough draft ready to go, even if you know it may be edited. That way, there’s a solid foundation for you and the advisor to go through.
Practice, practice, practice
The NACE survey also indicated that about 42.8 percent of career services users go there for mock interview sessions. This is great way to learn and understand the best interview methods, such as how to answer questions appropriately or the best ways to follow-up. You may also learn how to dress professionally or how to conduct your body language in a way that shows you’re professional, enthusiastic and eager to get the job.
Tip: Don’t be nervous! Your career center advisor is there to help you. Ask for feedback on what you’re doing right and what you need to improve upon. This way, you’ll get the bad out of the way and be able to emphasize the good.
Find those hidden opportunities
After all your proactive work is complete, it’s time to utilize your career center’s best asset: Hidden job opportunities. Eighty percent of open jobs are never advertised, which means members of your network, including your career center, may be aware of jobs you would never see listed. So it’s vital that you use this resource to your advantage.
Tip: Be sure to jump on those hidden internship and job opportunities. Just because they aren’t advertised, it doesn’t mean others haven’t gotten wind — they may be applying for the positions as well. In addition, if your advisor has a connection or can give you a reference, you may have an easier time getting into the organization.
Visiting your career center is an absolute necessity, whether you just started school or are about to graduate. Be sure to take advantage of this resource and use it to its full potential.
This article was originally published at http://www.businessinsider.com/4-surefire-ways-to-optimize-your-career-center-2013-6 and may be re-published with permission from the author.