There are a lot of new career resources available these days -- CareerBuilder, Monster.com, Glassdoor, Indeed, the list goes on.
However, it's easy to forget the resources that are much closer to home, literally and figuratively. College campuses offer some of the best career resources available, providing guidance and tools to students just about to enter the workforce and alumni alike. Tools can include resume and cover-letter assistance; access to career databases and job postings; information about job fairs; alumni directories; career coaching; and mock interviews.
Though most career resources are free for students and recent alumni, because of increased demand and budgetary restrictions in recent years, some colleges and universities charge a fee for drop-in services or for access to job postings after a few years of graduation. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example, becoming a member of the alumni association for one year costs $25 for recent graduates and $55 for applicants who graduated more than five years prior. For that fee, according to the careers resources webpage, members receive complimentary business cards and access to the UW-Madison library database, along with the opportunity to "tap into the power of the global Wisconsin alumni network," which has more than 400,000 members.
Rutgers University also charges a fee to access its CareerKnight system, which includes career-assistance appointments, mock interviews and career and internship planning. However, there are also free services, such as self-assessment templates, resume examples and guides for job-hunting.
Many people who are looking for a new job or career have limited availability and funds and might not be part of an alumni network. Luckily, there are plenty of online resources that are free and open to the public. For example, California Career Cafe, though marketed for community college students in California, offers free video tutorials on topics such as exploring career pathways, gaining experience and nailing job interviews. This content can be helpful for all job seekers, regardless of location.
Other colleges offer brief meetings to jumpstart career searches. At Washington University in St. Louis, 10- to 15-minute appointments are available to art, engineering and architectural students. These coaching sessions, though brief, can help ensure job seekers are on the right path.
Though it might seem like a lot of trouble to have these in-person counseling sessions, experts agree that practicing with real people helps nail the interview. "Top-notch communication skills are an absolute must-have for all job seekers," says Andrea Kay, author of "This Is How to Get Your Next Job: An Inside Look at What Employers Really Want." When faced with a confident candidate and a nervous or ill-prepared candidate, employers are much more likely to hire the former.
And whether you're starting a new career or entering the workplace for the first time, it's important to not give up. "Career-resilient workers are more employable. They have positive and flexible attitudes," says Joyce E.A. Russell, the vice dean at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program.
Utilizing the resources of your alma mater shouldn't stop with career services or the alumni association. Connect directly with other alumni through LinkedIn, Facebook and networking events to open up doors and job opportunities, sometimes before listings hit the typical job boards. Go U!