Graduates: Plan Ahead To Protect Your Potential

This article was written by Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project. Many graduates are facing a challenging job market, with student loan debt. My advice to job seekers is to plan ahead and protect your potential. Related: What Are The Hardest Challenges Facing College Graduates? To help make this planning easier, I’ve partnered with The Hartford on an educational campaign to help raise awareness among Millennials on the value of investing in their futures. The Hartford’s My Tomorrow website offers tips on "real world" decisions, such as careers, finances, and benefits, to help empower young employees to take control of their futures and careers.

Take advantage of the networks you are constantly building.

Every new grad probably has three distinct networks they’ve cultivated: your personal, professional, and social networks. In college, you may have gotten used to networking at events and reaching out to friends of friends during your job search, you need to also make sure to plan ahead with your social networks. More than ever, employers are tapping into social media as a channel to connect with talent. If you are looking for a new job or will be in the near future, now is the time to make sure your social media profiles reflect the best professional version of you. This includes LinkedIn, of course, but also Facebook, Twitter and other niche sites depending on your industry. When you have a strong social media presence, people you’ve spoken to in person can quickly pass along your LinkedIn profile or other social credentials to the HR department at their company, thus speeding your path to a new position.

Know how to protect your potential.

Given you are just starting out, you want to make sure you are protecting your greatest assets in order to build a successful future. The Hartford’s Gen Y Speaks Survey found Millennials perceive their greatest asset to be their health (42%), followed by their job/paycheck (26%). The insurance benefits that you get at work will protect both. For example, disability insurance will provide you a check if you are unable to work due to an off-the-job illness or injury, and give resources to help you recover and return to work faster. Benefits can also help maintain your independence and ability to pay rent, everyday expenses and bills, such as student loans. These key steps can help you stay on track to reach your professional and personal goals, such as a house or dream vacation.

Take control of your future.

The workplace of today is changing – thanks to the new generation of employees. More and more companies are beginning to offer flexible or customized positions or responsibilities, such as unique job titles or non-traditional schedules and career moves. You can use this trend to your advantage by identifying the path you want to take now and seeking opportunities that will get you where you want to be down the road. Think about the next few years of your life and pinpoint your top priorities. Then, determine how you might customize aspects of your life and career, such as taking on new projects that better fit your skills and longer term plans to help you achieve those goals. As a recent graduate,you have numerous resources at your fingertips to assist you as you take your next big step. Landing your first job is not an easy task, but being prepared will allow you to take the necessary steps to stay on track both professionally and financially.

Download Your FREE E-Book!

Graduating? Know someone who is? As a perk of the Happy Grad Project, we're offering a FREE download of our e-book, "The Recent Grad's Guide To Getting A Job." This e-book is JAM-PACKED with tips from experts and recruiters, videos, and additional help. Don't put off your job search any longer - Download our e-book today and get started!   Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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