(BPT) - With the start of summer comes warm weather, vacation planning and an influx of recent graduates on the job hunt. In fact, during the 2013-14 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award nearly 5.3 million degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. All those recent grads can easily translate to a highly competitive job market.
As students begin planning for their future outside the classroom and preparing for the next chapter of their lives - finding a job, apartment hunting, paying back student loans - many realize that graduation is an opportunity to refresh one's persona and digital reputation. This can include social media makeovers, refreshing your tech skills and upgrading your outdated email service to something more suitable for the next phase in life.
'Think of your digital footprint - your email address, social media and even the results of a search of your name - as the first impression you make on a company or recruiter. An excellent one will open doors,' says Karen Elizaga, executive coach and author of Find Your Sweet Spot: A Guide to Personal and Professional Excellence. 'Because recruiters and executives receive hundreds of inquiries a day, they need easy ways to weed people out. Many recent grads overlook the importance of their digital footprint and use amusing, old email addresses that undermine the professional image they want to convey, or their social media pages reflect a candidate who is irresponsible, profane or disrespectful, any of which quickly moves someone to the 'no' pile. Jobseekers first task: clean up their digital image and make sure it makes a positive impression.'
There are several mail tools and features recent grads should leverage when making the transition from student to newly employed, including:
* Manage your email reputation: Your email says a lot about you. In fact, it can be thought of as your first impression to employers. Whether you need to migrate over from an outdated email address or upgrade to a more professional email username, Outlook.com's import wizard allows you to import and manage your mail from Yahoo Mail, Gmail and many other email providers. You can even keep your old email addresses, but manage them all from one place.
Additionally 81 percent of all email users are using multiple email services, making it hard to keep up with numerous or old accounts, a recent study by Radius Global revealed. Consider consolidating to one personal email address to keep you connected and manage your contacts in one place.
* Utilize a shared calendar to organize your networking schedule: Having an always up-to-date address book and shared calendar available across your phone, tablet, and other devices makes networking easier because you aren't tied to any one device where information might be saved. Your Outlook.com calendar is accessible right from your inbox, so it's easy to stay up-to-date, subscribe to online calendars, import events from your other calendars, or share your agenda with family to keep everyone in sync. You can also send invitations, track RSVPs, and set notifications to stay on schedule.
* Leverage the tools employers care about most: A recent Microsoft survey looked at the job and skill requirements from 14.6 million job postings from the second and third quarters of 2013 and identified the 20 most common skills required for those positions. Proficiency in Microsoft Office was among the top five skills employers look for in a prospective new-hire. Outlook.com allows consumers to create, open, edit and share Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for free using Office Online, accessible from your inbox. It's a great way to create, access and share your resume and there's no need for you or those you share with to install Office, and your formatting stays intact.
* Remember that's it's all about who you know: As the old saying goes, 'it's all in who you know,' so working off one set of contacts that pulls in information from your social networks allows you to check your contacts' recent status updates, profile pictures, and Tweets while you email them. Additionally, many recent graduates are looking for jobs outside of their current residence. Don't let distance be a factor in the job hunt by staying connected with Skype chat and video calls right from your Outlook.com inbox.
Staying organized and being informed can be the difference between landing a job and a missed opportunity. For more tips, visit www.MicrosoftForGrads.com to learn more.