Many university students are now finding themselves in the same boat as immigrant trained professionals: they have the education but cannot land jobs in their field. According to Stats Canada, of those who are earning money while completing their degrees, a whopping 96% are in the service sector. Upon graduation, they frequently stay there, frustrated that they’ve not been able to find work in their field and increasingly hopeless that an opportunity will come their way.

Don’t give up yet!  Use the tips below to help you find the position you have been working toward.

1. Name and list your skills. Can you organize? Are you a great problem solver? Do you know how to deal with people problems? Can you help with technical problems? Do you write well? Are you persuasive? Think hard about all the things you do well. Then go to step two.

2. Go to job search sites to find out what jobs are showing for the skills you have.  There are several labour market opinion sites that can help you with this. Start to think of yourself as a talented professional who is looking for a company who needs someone like you. Then go to step three.

3. List your hobbies, interests and pass times. Many people find degree-related jobs because of their interests and concerns. I was very upset at a racist incident I witnessed. When I called an anti-racist organization to talk about it, I was offered a job – directly related to my research. I also like to direct amateur theatre and this alone was the reason I was hired to do something unrelated – the person in charge happened to be a theatre buff and I got my ticket into the door of an excellent job.  Another time a college hired me because I had once sung a song for the christening of one of the hiring committee’s babies! All these examples are results of seeing my outside interests as part of my employability portrait – they are instances when my interests were the “clincher” that made me seem like the right fit for that workplace.

4. Start building your professional network. I cannot stress this enough. Look for ways you can connect to people who do the kind of work you want to find and make a plan to sincerely get to know as many as you can.

5. Find out where the people who do the kind of job you want hang out and hang out there too. That is how you can learn the “lingo” and find out about upcoming jobs that are not advertised otherwise.

6. Look for virtual circles of people who do the job you want and join those circles. Read what they say, contribute thoughts and questions.

7. Create a LinkedIn portrait that highlights your marketable skills. Start connecting with people and companies that might hire you and find people with mutual interests. Many employers look for you on LinkedIn and if you aren’t there, they will not look at your application. Use Twitter to connect to employers too. Read The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha.

8. Look for actual work in your field while you are still in your degree program, preferably not later than in your third year.

9. Go to college, yes you read right – COLLEGE job fairs. Colleges are much better at connecting with employers than most universities. At their job fairs you will meet employers who could hire you and you will find out what colleges are doing to connect with those employers.

10. Hone your practical skills. Cook, sew, fix cars, repair phones, clean your apartment, run a marathon, help disabled seniors.  Most employers complain that “these young people” don’t have any life skills – prove them wrong.

11. Volunteer. While volunteering you will meet friendly people and connectors. Volunteering can take place in your job field of choice, for example at a conference, book launch or trade show.  Go there and see who you can meet and what you can learn.

12. Think of yourself as a start-up business. You need to market yourself, your skills, test out your products and find potential customers (read: employers). And that is my final suggestion – why work for someone else anyway? Could you start a business in your field? Consider this option, it has worked for many and could work for you.

These 12 tips are practices that I know work for people, but these 12 could easily turn into 112.  From the bright side that’s exciting because there are SO MANY ways that you can reach your goal.

To make it simple, choose one tip from this list to focus on for one month, then add another practice to your new routine the next month, and keep doing that for a whole year (ideally your fourth year of university!).  We believe that through your diligence, you’ll be able to line up a great position in your field about halfway through our list and certainly by the end of your degree.  Aren’t you worth that investment?

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not…Genius will not…Education will not…Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”

Calvin Coolidge

Want to learn more about using LinkedIn to find work?  Click here for a FREE DOWNLOAD

You may also like our blog post “Work experience, does it really matter?”

Maybe a webinar?  “Finding the job you want: The inner and outer game”

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt