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Five job-search tips for college students

Dear college freshmen,

Congratulations—this is the start of an exciting new chapter! It's a time to have fun and learn as much as you can. And, while you're not graduating until 2019, you need to start now figuring out what you want to do after college and how to land your dream job.

Getting a job in today's marketplace is evolving. Employers today are engaging with college students earlier, looking for more specialized skills, and increasingly using digital means to both communicate with, identify and recruit potential employees. This means you, Class of 2019. You are the workforce of the future.

The next four years are going to fly by. But if you do one thing now to get a step ahead, read these five tips that will set you on a path to your first job post-graduation. Your future self will thank you.

Students at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles.
Al Seib | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Students at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles.

1. Think hard about your major. You may not know exactly where you want to work — and that's OK — but just spending some extra time now speaking with your academic counselor, friends and family about industries and jobs you think you will like and are growing, will help you chose the right major and put you on the track towards a job when you graduate. Recent research from Accenture Strategy shows young grads are thinking about this more and more — eight out of 10 grads from the class of 2015 considered the availability of jobs in their intended field before selecting their major. Think about where a focus on liberal arts will lead you, and how that may differ from STEM classes.

2. Be social. Of course this is a time to meet new people in and outside the classroom, but you should also use this time to build your social networking persona. Friends and family are not the only ones looking to connect with you online.Professors, teaching assistants — and most importantly — recruiters will be looking to interact with you on LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Skype, and they are also going to look at your Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest feeds to see what makes you tick. Use this to your advantage. In fact, 14 percent of 2013 and 2015 grads said networking via social networks helped them land their first job — a figure which will inevitably rise as more and more hiring managers take to social media to find new talent.

3. Brand yourself. While you're busy analyzing brands and business plans in your "Intro to Business" classes, think about applying these same skills to your personal brand. Create a compelling profile on LinkedIn and ask people to endorse your skills. Use your social channels (sensing a theme here?) to post interesting insights and share content relevant to your intended industry of work, or start a blog to showcase your skills and interests.

4. Get an internship. There is no doubt that competition for top jobs gets tougher each year as employers are looking for a range of skills and abilities that go beyond your degree certificate. An internship or volunteer experience offers invaluable experience and can lead to a job. Research from Accenture Strategy shows that nearly half(47 percent) of graduates from 2013 and 2014 who participated in an internship say it led to a job. This is a terrific opportunity for employers to engage with top talent and for both you and your potential boss to build a relationship and determine if it's the right cultural fit for a more permanent position.

5. Get uncomfortable. Take some chances and try new things. Take a class outside of your core curriculum just because it sounds interesting. Join an intramural team for a sport you've never played. These kinds of versatile experiences will add to your resume and give you fresh perspectives to discuss in an interview.Employers will be interested in how your personal interests and the people you've met along your journey have shaped your skills, knowledge and outlook,and will help you stand out from the crowd when you are applying for jobs in 2019.

David Smith is a senior managing director for Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization.