The college graduation season is here, and young people are routinely told they must get a college degree in order to get a good job, but earning a degree is no guarantee of employment. Not without pounding the pavement for a few months and having the right mindset and guidance.

Research conducted for the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows the average college graduate who does not leave school with a job will spend 7.4 months looking for one.

So, how do you better ensure your chances of landing that job?

Delatorro L. McNeal, a student success expert and author of collegiate best-seller, "The Rules of the Game: “How to Write Your Own Ticket in College and Beyond", has five tips to help you make those necessary connections.

"Now, more than ever, we have to be strategic in how we land our dream job."

1) Know the company

Know the company you want to work for inside and out so you can stand out in your initial contact and in interviews (and follow ups).

Leverage the internet to learn about the organization you want to work for. 

Set Google Alerts to learn whats trending with that organization. It’s very important to understand the company’s culture. Go into the interview with questions you want to ask about the culture. 

Companies are looking for people with not just hard technical skills but their looking for soft skills people that can really can fit the team and culture of the organization.

Interviewers will always ask “Do you have any questions for us?”. You should always have 4-5 questions ready that are tailored to that company.

2) Connect with your local alumni association

You have favor with professionals you don't even realize just because of the school you are graduating from. Take advantage of this by joining and getting active in your school’s alumni association so you can find mentors, professional colleagues and opportunities. 

3) Leverage LinkedIn immediately before and after graduation

 Make sure you have a strong LinkedIn profile. Connect with CEO-owners of companies in your field and send personalized, meaningful messages.

Don’t network with people that can’t pay you. Don’t waste time on Instagram or Snapchat. You need to get where the employers and decision makers are. Ask everyone you have ever worked for or with for a recommendation. Ask for connections. While on LinkedIn, connect with the groups that are industry specific to your career goal and aspirations. 

4) Attend local chapters of national associations

Most professional associations have free or low-cost student rates. These organizations also have mentoring programs that allow students to get access potential mentors in their chosen profession. Aside from mentors, you can find job shadowing opportunities or internships. Internships could be the key to opening the door to that dream job. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, your chances of getting hired from an internship goes up 71 percent!

5) Tailor your resume for each job you apply for 

The days of a one-size fits all resume are OVER. You must customize your resume for each position by adding the keywords and industry terms that are most relevant to that opportunity.

ONE EXTRA PIECE OF ADVICE:

Delatorro McNeal advises to also focus on your "soft skills" - fortitude, gratitude, the grit to keep going after getting rejected. He says people make decisions about others in three seconds or less whether they want to work with you or have you on their team. 

You can see more here of Delatorro McNeal's interview with Kristen Berset-Harris on Great Day Washington.

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