1.Online presence: Find out what the web says about you and adjust accordingly. Take down inappropriate material and create a professional profile on LinkedIn. See Ef Rodriguez's piece on your online presence in this issue for more tips.
2.Network: Talk to everyone you know for possible references and help finding job openings.
3.Take advantage of resources: Use the free tools offered by CU Career Services while you still can. Online job postings, career counselors and resume advice are just a few of the resources they offer to students and alumni.
4.Ready recommendations: Get your general recommendation letters early in case of emergency need. Then ask for more specific versions as needed.
Source: Lisa Severy, director of CU Career Services
If you go
What: Spring Career and Internship Fair
When: Jan. 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: University Memorial Center
As spring semester begins, most seniors at the University of Colorado will begin planning their post-college lives -- if they haven't started already.
With only one semester left, many life changes are headed their way, including finding a job.
Lisa Severy, director of CU Career Services, said that while her office recommends May graduates get a jump start on the job hunt in the fall semester, it's not too late to get something great.
For students who might be just getting started, Severy said there are a few basic tips she would give to soon-to-be graduates to help them get a job lined up.
First up: Google yourself
"A growing number of... employers use the Internet to learn more about candidates," Severy said. "Run a search on your own name to see what they will see. Try to get anything you wouldn't want a graduate school or employer to see removed quickly."
And for those seniors who might find only Facebook posts in their search, Severy suggests plugging into some professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn to help boost your online persona. It's also a great place to start networking and search for companies with job opportunities.
CU senior Sarah McCullar began her search about a month ago but she's hoping to snag something part-time for the spring semester that will extend after graduation.
McCullar said she started by cleaning up her online profile and joined LinkedIn.
"There wasn't much to clean up but I wanted to make myself look more like an adult rather than a transitioning college student," McCullar said.
Next on the list: Work your contacts.
"Employers offering positions now are overwhelmed by the number of applications they receive for a single posting," Severy said. "When they need help, they are more likely to turn to trusted colleagues and even friends for recommendations that will help them to narrow down the crowd."
Make sure you tell everyone you know both personally and professionally you're on the hunt for a job and you would love some referrals. Alumni in your field could also be a great resource for recommendations and networking.
McCullar said she has been putting the word out through contacts she made during previous internships. She is hoping her networking will help her find out about jobs before they are announced publicly so she can be one of the most prepared candidates.
Line up recommendations
Which brings us to the next tip: Prepare your recommendations early.
May might seem like a distant future, but it's only five months away, and that means you lose easy access to professors and other potential references soon.
"Collecting letters of recommendation and other credentials becomes more difficult after you leave campus," Severy said. "Take a moment to ask your professors, advises, and anyone else you are close to here at CU to write a general letter of recommendation."
Severy said while it's good to have a specific recommendation for a particular position you're applying for, you can always go back to the reference and ask them to elaborate or adjust a generic letter.
"You can always ask for a tailored letter later, but having one on hand will be helpful in urgent situations or if that person becomes difficult to contact," she said.
Career Services offers an online resource for students and graduates to store their recommendation letters and other documents.
Don't give up
It might be ugly out there, but Severy said students shouldn't give up hope just yet. Her last tip for graduates is to take advantage of the tools available through Career Services.
Students have access to career fairs, career counselors and online job listings through careerservices.colorado.edu. And they're all free to students.
McCullar said she is hoping Career Services can help her tailor her resume to her top choices, including political jobs and positions with non profits.
"I think I've embraced the uncertainty and I'm just going with it right now," McCullar said.