How to Get a Job After College
Want to find a job after college but still lacking career advice? Keep calm! Just follow our step-by-step guide for recent graduates.
Want to find a job after college but still lacking career advice? Keep calm! Just follow our step-by-step guide for recent graduates.
On the one hand, job search after college provides unlimited opportunities. Recent graduates have a set of accumulated industry knowledge that is still fresh in their memories and can choose the best place to put it into practice. But in fact, candidates with no experience are at a crossroads. They have not yet formed their professional goals and still cannot compete in advanced skills with current industry insiders. In this case, it is essential to have a clear action plan for getting your first job, which will be the ticket to your future career. To put things right, we have developed step-by-step instructions with useful tips that will guide you throughout the search period.
Why is it Hard to Find a Job After Graduation
According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2017, only 4 percent of students remain unemployed after graduation. These statistics prove that getting a position is just a matter of time in most cases. Nevertheless, several factors could prevent you from reaching your goals as quickly as desired:
- Lack of career goals. If you cannot decide on a career path, then even a well-known company or prospective employers will not do it for you. It is one thing to have a diploma, but it’s quite another to know the first job after college that you want to get. For example, a bachelor's degree in marketing provides several employment options, including advertising, sales, or social media marketing. Therefore, the initial task of the recent grad is to understand what position suits them and what activities they will enjoy. To cope with this, study the available labor market offers within your specialty and have at least two career options in reserve.
- Lack of experience. The labor market is a highly competitive environment where both the employer and the applicant are looking for the best deal. Therefore, many companies prefer to choose employees with a sense of the field and an understanding of its inner workings. It helps them to avoid a long introductory period and additional training costs for the new hires. However, you should not take this fact as a dead end when looking for a job after college. On the contrary, this is an occasion to think through your other strengths and present them in the best way, thus motivating the employer to give you a shot.
- Poor self-presentation. Many entry-level specialists are not aware of their strengths when they apply for jobs. That is why they sometimes lose even to candidates with mediocre qualifications and a brief list of previous employers. Meanwhile, you probably already have a wide range of competitive advantages, you just need to find them and present them to your potential employer. Worked as a volunteer? Great! Participated in a public speaking club? Good job! Wrote a research paper on a relevant industry topic? It will come in handy! Some facts that seem insignificant to you can actually help you get a job right out of college.
- Low search activity. Some candidates apply for one available vacancy and spend weeks awaiting a recruiter's response. Even if you are a perfect candidate or an exemplary graduate, you should not expect every single company to express a sharp desire to work with you. This is a failed strategy. First, some companies do not provide feedback to all candidates, and second, after waiting weeks, you may be disappointed with the refusal. Then you are back to square one, still several weeks away from landing a job. To get hired more quickly, you should send application documents to dozens of companies daily and turn job boards into your favorite social network for the entire search period.
How to Find a Job After College
Being a passive job seeker is a bad idea if you want to land a job after college. But another disastrous decision is sending your resume to different companies at random, without doing a primary evaluation of your strengths and without preparing for a personal meeting with the potential employer. Therefore, adopt a turn-based search strategy that will significantly increase your chances.
How to conduct introspection?
- Think about your experience. As we’ve already mentioned above, although you are looking for your first job, you still have a professional background that can play into your hands. Any volunteering or internships is a clear proof of your involvement in the industry, which can take pride of place in your resume. For example, the public speaking experience from that time you participated in a public speaking club can be valuable for the employer if your future profession includes communication and interaction, like sales, consulting, or public relations. The basic rule is to focus on any experience that is directly related to the chosen role.
- Analyze your benefits. You can be sure that you have already mastered a set of critical skills during the period of your academic training. Writing of term papers develops research skills. Life on campus is a constant practice of communication, interaction, and negotiation. Failure of an exam is the development of stress resistance and the ability to act under pressure. Make a similar list before applying for different positions to know for sure what you can offer.
Where to look for a job?
- Visit the career center in your college. Many undergraduates and graduates mistakenly neglect this department when choosing a career after college. Its representatives can give you valuable employment advice and recommend specific companies and available vacancies. Additionally, career counselors often keep in touch with past graduates of your faculty and are aware of their current places of work. This gives you the opportunity to get fruitful contacts and referrals.
- Take part in career fairs and industry events. Such experience helps you to get a closer look at the desired profession, stay up to date with the latest industry changes, and expand your networking by developing professional contacts. These events are often attended by industry insiders or company representatives who are interested in new and fresh personnel. Therefore, there is a high probability of meeting a person who will contribute to the starting of your career. To pop up in the right place at the right time, constantly monitor announcements on specialized platforms, company websites, and social networks.
- Explore online job boards. These traditional sources will help you research the labor market and the requirements of your profession. Your task is to look through as many job descriptions as possible and to identify the most frequently repeated requests of employers. This data will serve as keywords for your cover letter or resume showing you as a suitable candidate. However, before applying for a position, re-read the vacancy and make sure that you have enough qualifications and are ready to meet all the proposed working conditions, whether it is frequent business trips, full-time, or night shifts. Your attention to detail, in this case, will save time for you and the employer.
- Follow the current offers of the company’s website. If you already have an approximate list of companies for which you would like to work, find their websites or subscribe to their existing social networks. Sometimes, companies reserve crony vacancies for a smaller audience and therefore do not place them on job boards. By monitoring their platforms, you can see such offers first and provide a fast response. However, when using social networks, be prepared for employers visiting your profile to evaluate you as a potential candidate. Therefore, make sure that your social media pages do not contain information that could harm your professional reputation.
How to promote yourself?
- Register with LinkedIn.However, to succeed in finding a job after college, creating a profile is not enough alone. Make sure to fill it with valuable information. Update it regularly to demonstrate your activity. Your goal is to catch and keep the attention of the potential employer on your profile. To achieve it, use the previously compiled introspection lists, add academic and extra-academic experience, and mention your valuable skills. You can also load case studies, research papers, and other works that show your level of knowledge. Fix the result with a summary of your profile, which should reflect who you are and what your professional goal is at the moment. Feel free to connect with your former college buddies and alumni, but do not forget to participate in groups that are related to your industry and look for fruitful contacts there.According to an internal study by LinkedIn, 90% of recruiters regularly use this platform searching for personnel, and 35.5 million people have already been hired through this professional network.
- Create your elevator pitch.
During career fairs and industry events, you will meet plenty of people who
can play an essential role in your future employment. In order to take
advantage of these encounters, you need to be able to pitch yourself in a
short time. Given that this type of networking is not an interview where you
are asked specific questions, the elevator pitch is a great way to take the
initiative and deliver all the necessary information about yourself to
This brief self-presentation takes no more than 30 seconds, during which time you should arouse interest in your candidacy and lay the foundation for further communication. Therefore, it is essential to exclude any unnecessary information that distracts from the essence and purpose of the dialogue. The main points of the elevator pitch can be your education, degree, industry specialization, qualifications, knowledge, professional background, achievements, career goals, and preferences. If you have more time to talk, you can add a few words about your self-development after college, the current stage of your job search, and so on. To succeed in this task, write down your speech, re-read it, cross out unnecessary parts, add attention-grabbing points, and be sure to rehearse it in front of a mirror or among close acquaintances.
- Create a cover letter.
With many positions, it is difficult to get an interview just using a
resume. This document focuses primarily on work experience. If the extent of
your experience is volunteering or an internship, these points will not be
properly appreciated by just using a resume to share them. Even among other
entry level candidates, a resume alone will not give you a clear competitive
advantage since many recent graduates can boast the same. A cover letter can
emphasize your soft and professional skills, describe situations when they
helped you succeed, explain the reasons for choosing an industry, explain
your motivation to join a particular company, and give a convincing answer
to the question of why you deserve this position.
Using keywords from the learned job description will strengthen your message as you prove yourself to be a candidate who is ready to cover the specific individual requirements of the company. After creating this document, you can paste it into the body of the email when sending the resume, and take a printed copy for an interview to have a trick up your sleeve.It allows a potential employer to look beyond the list of duties and skills and get acquainted with your personality.
How Long Does it Take to Find Work
According to a study by the University of Washington, the average time of job search for entry-level professionals is three to six months. This timeline often varies depending on the industry and level of activity of the graduates.
- Graduates with a degree in fine arts may need a little more time to get a suitable first position than, for example, applicants in the chemical field. In addition to the certificate and diploma, people with creative specialties should provide a potential employer with a portfolio that includes coursework and other samples demonstrating the range of their professional capabilities. It takes time to accumulate materials for this document, which explains the time difference for employment.
- Students who have begun to test the waters and look for job opportunities in the senior year of college have an advantage over colleagues who wait to start evaluating career options until after receiving a diploma. It is better to play it safe and establish contacts in advance than to just hope to catch a break after graduation in the period of the highest competition. Nevertheless, if you did wait to start your search until after completing your training, do not panic. A clear plan of action and patience will do the trick.
How to not give up
Whether the search takes three months, six months, or a more extended period, you need to be ready to bring your goal closer, step by step, despite intermediate difficulties, disappointments, and doubts. To cope with this task, keep the following tips in mind:
- No one is immune to failures. You may already have a team that you want to join the most. But rest assured that even experienced job seekers sometimes do not meet all the requirements and expectations of a particular company or the individual values of the employer. Therefore, do not focus on disappointment due to failure. Instead, clarify the reasons for the rejection and ask for advice on areas for improvement. Take this information into consideration for subsequent searches and remember that every failure leads you to success.
- Praise yourself for small victories. During your job search, find time to evaluate the intermediate results at least once a week, and you will see that you have some things to be proud of. For example, if you managed to attend one interview and apply to fifteen different companies last week, it proves that you are on the right track. Analysis of such achievements will help maintain your motivation and positive attitude.
- Never sit back.
The period of silence between applications is an ideal time for
self-improvement or interview preparations. After studying the current
market requirements, you understand what qualifications you have and what
you need to strive for. Therefore, search for useful literature or online
courses that will help you fill the knowledge gap and update your offer to
Make sure the interview invitation doesn’t catch you off guard. For this purpose, learn a recruiter’s most common questions to the job seeker, prepare winning answers, and rehearse confidence in the delivery of information. Such training activity will improve your chances of getting hired and preserve your fighting spirit.
- One thing at a time.
Sometimes applicants fail to find a position that fully meets their
expectations, as a result, they begin to panic, doubt their professional
aptitude, and look for shortcuts. However, this is actually just a reason to
be flexible and expand your search criteria. For example, if you are unable
to get a job offer for the full time hours you desire, then consider the
option of part-time employment or remote work. You still gain experience,
but in addition to this, you get financial rewards.
There is a good chance that you will not get into the industry you desire on the first try. This is not a reason for disappointment since any experience helps to provide you with the knowledge and skills that will come in handy during subsequent employment. Your central task is to use any opportunity to your advantage, since any steps in the labor market help advance you from being an inexperienced graduate to a specialist.
Each generation of graduates is faced with the question of how to get a job after college. Although there is no single universal recipe for getting the desired position as soon as possible, the tips in this guide are designed to simplify your task and point you in the right direction. The main thing to remember is that you already have a foundation of knowledge and skills that is of value to modern employers. Now your main task is to present them to the right people competently.