Graduating with a degree in business is a huge accomplishment that opens many doors for your future — but you have plenty of company. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a bachelor's degree in business is by far the most popular degree to earn.
In the 2014-2015 academic year alone, colleges and universities awarded approximately 364,000 business degrees. As you enter the workforce, you'll have lots of competition for the top business-degree jobs — including positions in finance, sales and marketing — so it's vital to be focused and resourceful. Here are five tips for getting the job that's right for you.
1. Network with people in your desired field
In the world of business, the old adage rings true: It's not what you know, it's who you know. Now more than ever, you need to have a strong professional and personal network to get ahead in the business world. Here are some business networking tips and techniques to use while in college.
Join any alumni networking organizations, especially those in your field of study and/or in the city where you want to work.
Reach out to your advisor, professors and the alumni office. Alumni from the business school may work at companies you're interested in and may have open jobs for business graduates. Alumni tend to want to help each other out.
Look into joining associations related to your area of focus — such as the National Association of Realtors or the American Marketing Association. These associations may be able to provide you with networking opportunities, courses, scholarships and information about community events. Keep in mind many associations have membership fees, but they could be worth the connections you'll make in your budding career.
Use social media, like LinkedIn, to join related groups, and connect with graduates, classmates and professors. Look at their connections to see if they can put you in touch with contacts at companies you're applying to. A personal recommendation can go a long way when it comes to getting a job. (However, just because social media makes networking easier than ever, don't underestimate the power of a phone call or face-to-face meeting.)
2. Hone business skills with a part-time job or internship
If possible, take on a part-time job or internship while you finish up your degree. Many business students think a job must be related to their field of study to be worthwhile, but that's not necessarily the case. For example, a job waiting tables can help you learn important business-related skills that you can apply to your professional career, including time and money management, working on a team and customer service skills.
If you can afford it (many internships are unpaid), an internship can be extremely valuable. Getting exposure to a real-world company and how it works will look great on your resume while also allowing you to determine what you want in a role. Look for internships at the types of companies you'd like to work for.
While you're there, do what you can to spend time working with various departments, including sales, marketing and accounting. This will not only help you hone-in on exactly what you want your next step to be, but it will also help introduce you to the right people. Who knows — the company might just have entry-level jobs for business majors when it's time for you to graduate.
3. Show your school experience through a business lens
Even if you're still in school or you're a recent graduate, it's never too early to build a LinkedIn profile and a resume. (According to U.S. News & World Report, 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool to find talent for job openings.) Although your work history may be brief, you can highlight your school experience in a way that shows your business-related skills.
Mention special school projects, volunteer work, and even your accomplishments on sports teams or clubs. Were you the treasurer of your fraternity? You gained accounting experience. Did you lead your campus social activities? You have experience in marketing. If you've received academic awards or distinctions, include them on your profile and your resume. Use LiveCareer's Resume Templates or visit your on-campus career center for advice on marketing your skills.
4. Ensure that you have the hard and soft skills you need
Depending on the area of business you want to work in, you may need additional qualifications beyond your degree. For example, to become a business or financial analyst, you'll need to take certain courses and exams. Research the certifications required in your field to show potential employers that you're working toward these goals.
In addition, employers who hire recent graduates want to see evidence of soft skills, such as leadership, flexibility and self-motivation. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than 70% of employers are looking for problem-solving skills, teamwork, initiative and communication skills, in addition to a strong GPA when reviewing candidate resumes. These can be more difficult to prove. Make sure to highlight examples of these skills within your school experience on your profile and resume.
5. Practice interviewing
A joint survey between Marketplace and The Chronicle of Higher Education of approximately 700 employers around the U.S. found that two-thirds of employers think graduates need to work on their interviewing skills. Interviewing is like anything else — you need to practice in order to improve.
Reach out to people you know in the business community and ask for informational interviews. Request their honest feedback on what you're doing right and what you need to work on. Practice with your fellow students, both as the interviewer and as the potential employee. Research common interview techniques and questions and try to trip each other up. You should also check to see if your career center holds mock interviews.
Armed with your business degree, you have a world of opportunity at your fingertips. With the right preparation, you can find the right fit for that first job out of college — and for the rest of your career. Why not use LiveCareer's Resume Builder to get started?