Most college students gradually become more clear about their direction and goals, as they move from one year of college to the next. Therefore, once you figure out what you want to do after college, you should go after the job that you want. Don’t assume that employers will find you. They won’t.

Preparation Is Critical - Employers with the jobs that you want are likely to interview many candidates for each job. Make the assumption that every employer has one job opening for every 8 to 15 students they interview, maybe many more. Therefore, you must devote your college years to the factors that will maximize your ability to compete. Success lies in the quantity and quality of your preparation. Only great preparation can result in great success.

Answer This Question - Why should the employer select you? Throughout college, your job is to accumulate the education, experience, accomplishments and qualities that will make this question easy for you to answer.

To find greater success, you can follow these five steps:

Do Some Research - During your freshman or sophomore year, Identify a few employers that offer the type of work that interests you. Find out what they will be looking for and what will impress them. To do this, you can use the internet and tap your network. Be sure to talk with Professors, Advisors, Career Services, Alumni, Recent Interviewees, Recent Hires, Competitors, Recruiters and the Employers themselves. Until you know exactly what the employers are looking for, you can’t properly prepare. Learn about the qualifications and experience of the candidates who were hired last year. Then, set out to do more and better than those recent hires.

Decide How You Will Differentiate Yourself - Your good looks aren’t enough. Exceptional Grades, Technical Skills, Accomplishments, Work Experience, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills, People Skills, Responsibilities Held, Problems Solved, Revenue Generated, etc. Few candidates are hired simply because they have good grades. The best employers want more than that. They prefer well rounded students who can get things done, communicate, lead and interact with a diverse group of people. They will want to hear about the specifics. Be prepared to tell stories and provide detailed examples.

Get Some Practical Experience - Remember what you learned from your employer research. Then, spend two to three years doing the things that these potential employers want. This includes gaining experience through part time and summer work and participating in the academic, campus and local community to build a list of impressive accomplishments. Take care to develop your best personal qualities, including your leadership, communication and people skills. Note: If you have few accomplishments during your college years, employers won’t have any reason to believe that you will make a significant contribution to their organization. The best candidates find ways to demonstrate their skills, knowledge, energy and capabilities. They give employers more than one reason to hire them.

Obtain The Tools You Will Need - There are many tools that you will need for your job search. Don’t wait to get started on them. You will need an outstanding resume built around your accomplishments, interviewing skills that demonstrate your communication skills and self-confidence, a broad network that can be used to gather information, a list of relevant employment web sites and employment agencies, impressive references, a list of well researched employers and a list of questions you will ask. Give careful thought to your clothing and accessories, your overall appearance and body language. Smart candidates don’t leave anything to chance. They gather and prepare an outstanding array of tools, in a effort to gain an advantage.

Conduct A Thorough And Comprehensive Job Search - You may very well need to contact more than 200 employers before you receive a job offer. That’s why you must spend so much time getting ready. It’s also the reason that you must work so hard at finding a job. Good jobs don’t fall into your lap. You earn them.

Take advantage of your previous research. At the beginning of your final year, begin to contact every employer on your list. Tap your network to obtain information and contact that can help with your search. Visit the appropriate employment web sites and contact some employment agencies. Do more research and keep going.

Make certain the your resume emphasizes you accomplishments, responsibilities and capabilities. Be prepared to explain how you made things better for others. Show employers not only what you did but, more importantly, the results of what you did and how those results benefited your group, college, employer, organization or community. Paint a picture that leaves little doubt that you are willing and able to take on the responsibility for getting things done.

As you begin to conduct your job search, everything must come together. Your research, your strategy for differentiation, your experience and accomplishments, the tools you have prepared and your effort and enthusiasm must all be focused on the same goal. Don’t operate as though you will obtain a job offer from your campus interviews. Only a tiny percentage of students, across the country, will get job offers that way.

Clearly, the more effort you commit to preparation, the better your chances for job hunting success. The number of interview opportunities that you generate will greatly depend on the diligence you have demonstrated in previous years. Start early!

Visit Bob’s web site: Bob Roth is the author of The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College -and- The College Student’s Guide To Landing A Great Job.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Roth, a former campus recruiter, is the author of The College Student's Guide To Landing A Great Job -and- The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College. Known as The "College & Career Success” Coach, Bob also writes articles for nearly 200 College Career Services Offices, Campus Newspapers, Parent Associations and Employment Web Sites. Additionally, Bob has developed 20 Self-Scoring Learning Tools that help college students find success. He has been interviewed on numerous radio programs across the country and also by many newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal. Lastly, Bob serves as an Adjunct at Marist College, teaching a course in Career Development.