Tips for successful job hunting

Even if graduation feels a long way off, it's never too soon to start thinking about finding a job after you finish your degree. As you're no doubt aware, finding a job in today's uncertain economy is no easy feat, and you'll need to differentiate yourself from the competition in order to land that elusive first job. Even if you're still filling out college applications, these suggestions may be worth thinking about now.

Although you've probably got a good idea of the direction you want your career to go in, your plans may be different from what your parents expect from you. Be honest with yourself, and stay true to what you want to do – it's your life.

After figuring out what you want from your career, identifying your strengths and weaknesses could be a good idea. This is another area where honesty will serve you well – there's no shame in admitting you may not be the best at something. Once you've figured out what you're good – and not so good – at, you can start building your resume and looking at job listings. If a job requires more than a few things you're not as good at, it might be an idea to see what else is out there.

Anyone who has every interviewed extensively will tell you to do your research. That doesn't mean having a quick look at a company's website while you're on your way to the interview! Thoroughly research what the company does, and how they fit into their wider industry. Not only will this give you a better idea of what the organization does, it could help you to come up with some good questions for the interviewer. Nothing says you've been paying attention and thinking about the job more than asking intelligent questions.

Speaking of interviews, as with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Ask your parents or friends to help you go through some potential interview scenarios. Tell them not to go easy on you – the point isn't to make everyone feel better about themselves, it's to identify questions and situations that you didn't handle as well so you can focus on improving. For example, if an interviewer asks you to tell them about a situation in which you worked as a team, practicing interview situations can help you feel more confident, prepared and ready to impress.

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