The spring break of your senior year has a certain set of expectations attached to it: a warm locale, great friends, plenty to eat and drink, and no worries. I had one such vacation planned, but due to roommates changing plans and a general lack of funds, I ended up at home last week for my time off.

Don’t feel too bad for me, though. I still got to spend time with my parents, eat delicious home- cooked food, and get my laundry done for me (it’s the simple things in life). I also made some serious progress in my job search. Using my break to apply for jobs has made my first week back at school less stressful, and I’m more levelheaded as friends relay their anxiety about their own job searches. With a few applications under my belt, I’ve gathered some tips to make the most of your spring break to ease the transition of applying to jobs.

Make a company list.

Job boards are useful tools, but on some of the more disorganized ones I find that I quickly get frustrated and lost reading descriptions while trying to navigate the site effectively. I’m now using a different system, and so far I’m pleased with the results.

Over my vacation I updated my organizational list. I have a running list of companies, non-profits, websites, and magazines that I would be thrilled to work for, and underneath each name is a link to their employment pages. Every few days I choose a chunk of the list and check up on their employment opportunities. This makes the search manageable, but still fruitful. No matter your industry, you may already have a list like this in your memory. Commit it to paper for a concrete example of places you want to work—it may be longer than you anticipated, giving you a foundation for your search that you already have a vested interest in.

Have someone look at your resume.

This is a rule that has morphed into an unspoken requirement, but it bears repeating. Having a new pair of eyes glance at your resume is essential to catching errors. People who are close to you will read with a critical eye, because they’re equally committed in showing you off in the best light to potential employers. My resume detective found that I had yet to update my email
address on my resume header—a lifesaving move!

Clean up!

We’ve been reading how appearance is an important factor in job interviews and in the workplace to convey a strong, confident persona. Use the time you have over break to get your hair cut, get a massage to ease the post-midterm stress, and any other pampering rituals that will make you feel refreshed. Coming back to school, you’ll be ready for networking nights, informational interviews, and university events with alumni—all areas that could bring you one step closer to that job!

Speaking of networking…

If you have some local contacts in the area, use your free time to reconnect with your colleagues and remind them that you’ll be graduating soon. Seeing you again will remind them of all the work you’ve done previously, and you’ll be at the front of their minds if they hear of any openings you’d be qualified for.

With these tips in your back pocket, you’re guaranteed to feel more relaxed about what lies ahead. Searching for jobs is definitely a little scary, but it’s exciting too! Make your vacation a half-and-half effort, putting in a little bit to further your career each day, and a little bit to unwind and enjoy this time away from school. Using your time well now will save you the anxiety later, and who doesn’t love that?

Any other tips for using breaks or vacations to further your career? How did you handle the post-grad job search?