You’ve entered your final year of college and you still don’t know what you want to do after graduation. You panic. Everyone around you must have figured this out by now and you’re the only person who doesn’t have a clue. You’ll graduate, won’t find a job, will be broke, have to move back in with your parents, can’t get a date, eventually die hopeless and alone!!

That’s how it might feel. That’s normal. And no, most people around you DO NOT have it figured out.

That’s what this post is dedicated to: helping you plan out your after-grad career strategy. We’ll go thru the best way to structure your search, resume, and timing so you’re ready to go come graduation.

Here’s what you need:

Let’s start with the bottom and work up.

Step 1: Where do you want to live?

This will greatly impact your career options as there are a bunch more jobs to choose from in a large metro city than say the middle of North Dakota. That said, find out what’s important.

Do you want to live close to family? Close to friends or your school? On the coast? In another country?

Once you’ve settled on 1-3 locations, you can move on to the next step. But first, research cost of living, what it costs to rent a place there, how you’ll move out there, and a backup plan if you decide to move back to where you are now.

Step 2: Money, money, money, money…MONEY!

What do you want to earn? The higher the salary, the greater the expectations and the more time it will take you to find.

For example, if you want a job paying minimum wage, the barrier to entry for most min. wage jobs should be X.

As the salary increases, y, so too should x. Qualifications we’ll call z.

It looks like this: y(x) = how much time it will take. If qualifications of a new grad are 1(z) and of someone with 25 years experience are 25(z). As the value of z increases, so does y, and x can go down, but it doesn’t always. This is a really fancy way of saying if you graduated in 2018, so did 2,254,846 others. How are you going to stand out?

Did you go to a top tier school? Did you get a 4.0? Do you have a technical degree like a Bachelor’s of Science? All of these will impact how much of an initial salary you’re able to capture. Graduates with computer science degrees can earn $100,000 from companies like Amazon in their first year. (but you need to be good enough to work at Amazon).

Keep your expectations realistic. You won’t earn your dream salary when you start, don’t expect to. I know it sucks to hear; I thought I was different too and would earn way more just because.

Step 3: LinkedIn

Start your LinkedIn now. Sign up and add your school, a profile photo and every other possible item you can. Connect with me too. This will help jump start your career search and is absolutely crucial.

How important is a LinkedIn profile? Today, about 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary sourcing tool. It matters.

Step 4: Assemble Your Resume

This could use it’s own post.

Before you do anything on your resume, do not pay for anyone to write it. I promise.

Next, use these tools to help assemble your info. If you need inspiration, read this.

Now what?

Time to look for a job. You have all the basic details and info needed to start. Use LinkedIn to network and talk to people about what they do and learn about different places you could work. Try this article to help.