So you've made it through the undergraduate experience and you're headed into the job market. You've done your internships, volunteered and built up a pretty nice professional and social network. As part of <a title="our Back-to-School coverage" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/backtoschool/"><strong>our Back-to-School coverage</strong></a>, BlackEnterprise.com offers this step-by-step guide to finding career success, from the search, to the interview, to salary and benefits negotiations to keeping the job. <i> — Janell Hazelwood </i>
<strong>GET THAT JOB:</strong> If you haven't already landed your gig or started your search, be sure to tap into your readily available resources and networks, comb career and company Websites, and start casting your job seeking net. Take a great tip from Aisha Taylor of TAYLORmade Professional Career Consulting: <a title="Think outside the box" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/06/14/no-luck-finding-a-job-widen-your-search-net/"><strong>Think outside the box</strong></a> when it comes to job seeking. It definitely goes beyond simply sending out dozens of resumes and cover letters per day. Be aggressively proactive <a title="—creative even—" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2009/09/23/how-i-landed-my-gig/"><strong>—creative even—</strong></a> when trying to land the opportunity of your dreams. They may be where you least expect, from a conversation with your local favorite eatery or boutique to a lead arising from your days as a volunteer at your church or after-school program.
<strong>ACE THAT INTERVIEW:</strong> You're already <a title="dressed impeccably" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/05/27/company-dress-code/"><strong>dressed impeccably</strong></a> and prepared with an awesome <a title="personal sales pitch" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/03/24/anatomy-of-an-elevator-pitch/"><strong>personal sales pitch</strong></a> and <a title="resume" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/04/28/job-seekers-tips-how-to-get-resume-noticed/"><strong>resume</strong></a>. As experts would say, walk into the room with the confidence of <a title="knowing you're prepared" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/06/24/take-the-three-ps-with-you-to-ace-your-job-interview/"><strong>knowing you're prepared</strong></a>. You made it out of many applicants and you've earned an employer's attention. Make great eye contact, and shake hands firmly (but not too rough). Let your personality and professionalism shine. Interject with things you know about the company and what you could offer to their latest pursuits, whether it's a major project or client they're working with or a specific strategy you could offer to help the company bottom line. And don't forget to ask questions as well.
<strong>GET THAT MONEY:</strong> You've gotten the offer, but now it's time to talk benefits and compensation. Don't shortchange yourself by taking this part for granted. As the saying goes, "<a title="You don't get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/03/28/watch-stepping-out-of-the-box-with-gospel-superstars-mary-mary/"><strong>You don't get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.</strong></a>" Take the appropriate steps to <a title="talk about health benefits, 401k offerings and salary" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/01/25/want-to-earn-a-mans-salary-negotiate-like-him/"><strong>talk about health benefits, 401k offerings and salary</strong></a>. You set the bar for the future by what settle for at the onset. Experts say you never want to sell yourself short and end up making what was good news, a reason to quit later.
<strong>SHOW AND PROVE:</strong> Long gone are the days of breaks between classes and flexible hours (unless you were fortunate enough to land a job with those perks). Now it's time to transition into full-time work mode. Be prepared and on top of your game. Avoid stress and wasted time by <a title="prepping your look" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/videos/?channelId&channelListId&mediaId=ea3c0f644c0e45fc9684508dee596ef8"><strong>prepping your look</strong></a>, travel and mindset for the next day — or even week — the night before. Set those alarms and create a routine that will <a title="maximize your work and personal time" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/05/09/5-ways-to-maximize-your-time/"><strong>maximize your work and personal time</strong></a>. Be willing to learn and flexible to doing any task. Be a team player, but <a title="don't pause" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/08/11/channel-your-inner-kanye-and-stop-the-second-guessing/"><strong>don't pause</strong></a> when its your time to shine. If possible, begin documenting your triumphs and challenges, not only for self-growth, but also for when the time comes for that raise or promotion. Also, ask questions of your supervisor at the appropriate time to find out how you're doing and how you could improve. And don't forget to take care of the <a title="appropriate paperwork" href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/08/16/get-it-together-diva-plans-b-c-and-d-are-always-a-good-look/"><strong>appropriate paperwork</strong></a>, such as your health documents, 401k set-up and direct deposit.