Five simple career tips for job-hunting seniors

02/04/16 – BOSTON, MA. – Students attend the career fair in Cabot on Feb. 4, 2016. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

The spring semester is less than one week old, but scores of Northeastern seniors have already begun looking for their first full-time jobs after graduation.

Mary Sullivan, associate director in the university’s Career Development department, advises the enthusiastic jobseekers to think of their first professional jobs as steppingstones along a long and potentially winding career path.

“Graduates will have several different jobs and quite possibly different careers over their professional lives,” she explained. “They should think of their first jobs after graduation as part of their lifelong learning process.”

Here are five more career tips for job-hunting seniors.

First and foremost, pursue what you enjoy

Reflect on your past co-op, internship, and volunteer experiences, Sullivan said, and ask yourself what you liked and didn’t like. Consider the kind of work that has meaning to you.

Even if you don’t land the perfect job directly out of college, take the opportunity to hone the skills you acquired on co-op while “pursuing something that you’re interested in and have enjoyed in the past.”

Perfect your resumé and cover letter

A per­fect resumé and cover letter won’t guar­antee that you’ll land your dream job, but it will help you get your foot in the door.

According to Sullivan, “Your resumé is the first professional impression that your prospective employer will receive, so it has to be perfect. It can’t have any grammatical or stylistic errors.”

Career Development, which is open from Monday through Friday, wel­comes walk-​​in cri­tiques of resumés, cover let­ters, and LinkedIn pro­files. For more in-​​depth ques­tions and con­ver­sa­tions, it offers hour­long appoint­ments in person, by phone, or by Skype, as well as dozens of work­shops on topics ranging from interviewing to advanced net­working.

“We highly recommend seniors take advantage of our walk-in hours to have their resumés reviewed before they send it out to employers,” Sullivan said. “And if students need assistance with their job searches, we will meet with them individually and go over job search strategies.”


Networking should be one of students’ primary strategies to finding a job after graduation.”
— Mary Sullivan, associate director in Northeastern’s Career Development department

Join a professional association in your field

“Networking,” Sullivan said, “should be one of students’ primary strategies to finding a job after graduation.”

One way to connect with potential colleagues, she explained, is to join a professional association in your field. Career Development offers “Career Guides” to more than 40 fields, including comprehensive lists of jobs, industries, employers, and professional associations related to each discipline.

“In many instances, professional associations post available jobs and hold conferences that recent graduates can take advantage of,” Sullivan said.

Take advantage of NUcareers

NUca­reers, Northeastern’s database of co-op and career opportunities for students and alumni who have up to three years of work experience, allows users to apply for jobs while accessing a range of career man­age­ment services. The portal is opti­mized for mobile devices, so users can access job list­ings, mes­sages, and noti­fi­ca­tions on the go.

“NUcareers is definitely one of the best job-search sites for seniors,” Sullivan said. “When you’re reviewing your opportunities,” she added, “be sure to pay attention to the skills and qualifications required for particular positions and then highlight in your resumé and cover letter the ways in which your expertise aligns with the job you are applying for.”

Attend the Senior Career Conference and the Spring 2017 Career Fair

Sullivan advised seniors to attend Northeastern’s annual Senior Career Conference, which will be held on Friday, Jan. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Stearns Center.

The event will begin with a networking lunch and then offer atten­dees the chance to participate in three programs—including round­table dis­cus­sions, employer panels, and one-​​on-​​one meet­ings with employers—throughout the rest of the day.

Roundtable topics will range from advanced interviewing techniques to building your personal brand. And representatives from more than 20 companies—including GE, Liberty Mutual, and HubSpot—are expected to attend.

The Spring 2017 Career Fair will be held on Thursday, Feb. 2 from noon to 4 p.m. in the Cabot Center, where jobseekers will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with representatives of more than 200 companies.

Participating employers will range from Amazon to Raytheon to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“The career fair is just one more opportunity for students to connect with employers,” Sullivan said. “But it’s important for students to prepare for the event by doing research on the companies they are interested in.”