Most Career Centers require you to register with the office before taking advantage of the services provided. This may be as simple as a few line items on a simple sign-up form, but more likely will involve filling out a detailed registration form or data sheet. In addition to supplying basic information internally for the office, this form often doubles as a candidate information sheet for employers, so take the time to fill it out accurately and completely. You may also be required to sign a release form giving your permission to release your resume and other credentials to employers.
Another initial step is to provide a current copy of your resume. Many Career Centers are now requiring Microsoft Word and/or PDF documents instead of paper resumes. These digital resumes may be combined with others for e-mail forwarding to potential employers in advance of on-campus interviewing. When providing your resume to the Career Center, be prepared to provide a both hard copy (paper) and digital. It is recommended to follow our standard resume format covered here at this site, but use only our format, while adding your own unique content. Always attempt to be an original when it comes to your resume to differentiate yourself from your competition.
While your job search is new to you, it's a way of life for professionals in a Career Center. The career counselors have ongoing experience in working with students from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, and will already have established links with interested employers. Career counselors actively survey the job market, seeking out the best practices for you to employ in your job search. They are constantly in touch with potential employers in order to bring the broadest mix of potential employers to your campus for on-campus interviewing.
The career counselor is there to assist you in your search for your first career position. While the company recruiter is focused on looking for the best person for the position, the career counselor is looking for the best position for the person. The career counselor has built professional relationships with employers, keeps up with emerging trends in the employment field, and can personally coach you on how to market yourself as well as help you build your own employer connections. It's in your best interest to develop a personal and continuing relationship with your career counselor.
The most important service offered by the Career Center is the one-to-one relationship with a career counselor. This is the only person on the face of the earth (other than you) who considers your successful job search to be priority number one. Take note that to have a career counselor in the "real world" would cost you at least fifty dollars an hour (or you could get the package deal for $500-$1000+).
Even if you are already into your final year of college and ready to begin your job search, it is never too late to build your career counselor relationship. Note that many of the best positions are already being interviewed for on campus and filled early in the academic year. But if that time has already passed, do not put off your initial visit any further. It will take time to effectively build a relationship and develop a personal program for meeting your specific needs.
Your goal is to have a professional yet personal relationship with your career counselor. You will likely be given a set of tasks and activities to accomplish which are specific to your stage of career planning. Complete these activities on time and you will earn the respect of your career counselor, who will see that you are committed to succeeding in your job search.
Keep in close touch, but not too close. Most career counselors are overworked and underpaid, so do not expect them to conduct your job search for you. They are simply the front-end contact to help you get started and guide you along the path. You need to take personal responsibility for the eventual success of your job search. You will need to put forth the personal effort to make it happen.
As your job search progresses, provide the courtesy of communicating all second interviews and eventual offers to your career counselor. The career counselor can likely provide you with some historical salary information, both for the specific employer as well as your major and field. By providing information back to your career counselor, you will not only gain a competitive edge in your job search, you will also be providing information for the next generation of graduates.