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Do you want to make a change in your life? Well, there’s no better time to do so than right now. Since you’ll be graduating soon, it’s worth putting in some time and effort now to make sure your next job is secured. The job market has never been more competitive and it can be hard for you to understand what prospective employers are looking for.

Anyone launching a career knows how hard it is to secure a job interview. Since you don’t get a lot of chances, it’s crucial you make every single opportunity count. If you’re applying for various jobs, you need to think about what makes you stand out from the rest. Your goal should, therefore, be to over prepare and go all out to convince the interviewer you’re the best candidate for the position.

To start off with, your resume should be clean. Your LinkedIn and any other social media platforms should be up-to-date. Your portfolio should be creative and indicative of your previous experience. And your application should be tailored to the company you’re applying for.

Here are five ways to prepare yourself for your next job.

Get out there

Do research and ask different people how they acquired their current jobs. You’ll often hear it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time or of knowing the right people. Either way, one of the great ways to prepare yourself for the future is by getting yourself out of your comfort zone and meeting new people. You can do so through networking efforts or volunteering and going to industry events. It’s an important step to expand your network for the next phase of your career. You’ll learn about other people’s career paths and maybe even stumble upon an opportunity or two for yourself.

Stay in touch

Once you network with different people, you must stay in touch with them. And don’t forget about all the people already in your network. You don’t want to be that person who reaches out to people only when you need them. They, unfortunately, won’t help you. No matter where you are in your career, make sure you reach out to the important people in your network several times a year. You’ll be much more successful getting people to help you if you’re good at reaching out from time to time.

Learn something new

Are you interested in something unrelated to your current position? Even if you don’t have a secret side skill you want to develop, learning something new will help you stay nimble and engaged. Someone you don’t want to be is that difficult-to-train new hire who hasn’t had to learn anything from scratch in years. So, do an extra course which is out of the ordinary. Perhaps you’re a communication major, why not take on a challenge to try out the finance world? If you’re still a student, there's a lot extra short courses in various careers you can do. And if you’re perhaps a well-established manager looking for a different career path, there are finance courses for non-financial managers too. You’ll be stretching your brain and the new knowledge obtained might end up playing a bigger role in your career than you think.

Demonstrate an attitude of curiosity

Curiosity drives innovation. When you go to an interview with a desire to learn about the role of the company, it’s a big positive. People who exhibit an interest in something seek to understand why things are the way they are and how they can be better. Prepare intelligent questions for the next time you have an interview. The interview isn’t just for the manager to decide whether you’re a good fit, you also have to make sure that the role is right for you. The interviewer will shape their perception of you based on the questions you ask. Come up with questions that express a genuine desire to learn.

Build your skill set

Similar to learning something new, you should build your expertise. You might not know exactly what it is you want to do, you probably only know the areas you wouldn’t mind being more involved in, in the future. Before applying for your next job, try to find the perfect time to build your skill set. Whether it’s through structured training and certification programs or more self-driven experiences like writing a blog or taking extra classes. Even if you end up not using this skill, it’ll be noticed by hiring managers. They’ll see you’re eager to learn new stuff.

Don’t let your next job hunt take you by surprise. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure what your next career move is. There are many things you can do to prepare yourself for your next job. So narrow down your options and go out to meet new people.

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