Stepping into the Professional World on the Right Foot

Planning for the future can be confusing at times, but who says it has to be a struggle? From standing out at your internship to planning your post-grad plans, there are plenty of easy changes you can make to look and feel your best in order to succeed. Having the confidence to thrive in the professional world will position you to excel in whatever you do. Here’s what you should be doing to ensure you start off on the right foot:

Update Your Resume Frequently

It never hurts to get a second, or even a third, opinion on your resume. Rather than talking about your day-to-day duties on your resume, it’s best to demonstrate the skill set and benefit that you personally brought to a company/organization, and to have your desired company in mind while doing so. This can and should be, a process that it is completed regularly before applying to any job. Also as you engage in volunteer events, clubs, internships, and other extracurricular activities.

Utilizing the knowledge of classmates, professors, and your career center can help you to compile the best of what you have to offer, and showcase what is most important. Accepting constructive criticism, updating your vocabulary, and finding new ways to create a quality, eye-catching resume will put you ahead of the game.

Don’t be afraid to get creative when structuring your resume, as some employers like to see out-of-the-box interpretations, but use your best judgment. If you’re applying for a position at a young, creative company, for example, consider tailoring your resume to fit the company’s mission, values, and overall aesthetic. As you would tailor a cover letter to fit the job you are applying for, you should always do the same with your resume. Having a strong skill set on paper can help you emulate the confidence you need to score the job of your dreams.

Dress the Part

A big part of being the best version of yourself in the professional world is dressing the part. This doesn’t mean you have to dress business professional every day, but elevating your style to look more put-together, and especially well-dressed during important moments, is a great first step. For ladies, it’s easy to be stylish by pairing trendy loafers with dark wash jeans and a button-down top. Swap the jeans out for a pencil skirt and add a cute suit jacket for a more professional twist. Purchasing staple pieces that you can alternate from ultra-casual to business is a great way to elevate your look. For men, try renting a great suit for a big interview or networking event. In your everyday wear, get some stylish dress shoes to pair with dark jeans or khakis and a nice shirt or sweater.

Of course, you’ll still have days where wearing sweatpants in public is fine, but try to limit it to the weekends or for running quick errands. You never know who you’ll see on a grocery store run or in class, so it’s important to always be on your A-game and grow more comfortable dressing professionally.

Network

Networking is an important step to take when positioning yourself for success. No matter how far along you are in your collegiate career, it is never too early to take advantage of networking opportunities. When it comes to events, showing up in your best professional attire with a resume and business card in-hand can give you the confidence to interact with anyone. Work on your elevator speech, build an off-paper resume that you can speak to, and work on some speaking techniques to command the room and exude confidence.

The most important thing to remember about excelling at networking is maintaining the connections you make. Reach out to your connections on LinkedIn, offer to meet them for coffee when you’re in their area and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or insight when the opportunity presents itself. If you keep these connections into your career, it may turn into a mutually beneficial connection down the road.

 

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