Finding a job after college: 6 tips to propel you on your way
Congratulations! You completed your degree, and now you’re ready for the next phase of your professional life. Finding a job after college is exciting and challenging in the best of times, and you happen to have graduated into an exceptionally challenging economy.
Succeeding now requires an extra level of diligence. The upside is that as a result you will strengthen your soft skills and demonstrate the kind of creative persistence that will be an asset to any future employer.
6 tips for finding a job after college
Follow these six tips to give yourself the best chance at finding suitable employment after graduation.
Leverage college resources
Every university has a career services office. No doubt you were in touch with yours prior to commencement, but find out what is still available to you and keep utilizing it to the max. Additionally, you now are part of an alumni network. Ask faculty for referrals to previous graduates they know who now are connected to industries that interest you. The alumni relations office could have helpful insights as well.
Speaking of industries, you might have started your education intent on working in a particular industry, but now it has put a freeze on hiring. You may need to think about how the skills you’ve learned could translate to a different one. Don’t worry; given time, your dream career path will probably open up again, and in the meantime you are developing an attractive resume that shows you are adaptable.
You’ll need to be flexible about pay and benefits, too. New grads are “entering the job market as tens of thousands of other more experienced workers have just lost their job,” says Sarah Foster for MSN News. “All of this is going to put downward pressure on wages.” Think long term, but you need to get in the game now, so you are positioned to increase your earnings later.
Grow your network
Talk to all those family members and friends who are congratulating you on your academic accomplishments. They are on your side, and one of them just might know someone who can open a door for you. If you are a younger graduate, your college buddies might not be the best help, but their parents or older siblings might be. Make sure your LinkedIn profile shines and learn to use that network to expand yours.
Graduation doesn’t mean you are done learning. It’s a lifelong process. Is there an additional certification or a self-study course you can access online? Recruiting managers look favorably on candidates who have used the time between jobs to strengthen existing skills and add new ones. Even reading books on various aspects of leadership and personal development is a good use of your time.
Prepare to stand out
With the number of people in the job market so much greater right now than the number of jobs available, it’s crucial to stand out as an excellent choice. Your resume, cover letter, elevator pitch, and LinkedIn profile all need to be top-notch if you want potential employers to immediately notice that you are worth their attention. One error could tank your chances, so find a good proofreader.
A generic resume won’t make anyone want to call you. For each job you apply to, research the company and pay close attention to the job description and requirements. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight the ways in which you are a good choice to meet their needs. Be specific. Don’t load your resume with jargon, but do incorporate some of the key terms in the job description because software that initially screens resumes is programmed to search for those terms.
Your resume needs at least two or three jobs in work history to gain any consideration. What if, as a fresh college grad, you have only had part-time or summer jobs? Include them, but highlight the skills and character qualities you demonstrated that benefitted those employers and are transferrable to future work. Internships and externships can also show relevant work experience.
Work with a recruiter
Known informally as headhunters, recruiters should not be used as the only resource in your job search, but they will give you a definite advantage. Here’s why:
- They know the industry and the job market better than you do. They stay on top of forecasts, where the potential lies, and who is hiring.
- They have ready-made networks. They might be on a first-name basis with hiring decision makers you have no access to. Because of the trust they have earned, if they believe you are a good candidate for an open position at a partnering organization, you’re better positioned than if you were going it alone.
- They cost you nothing. Recruiters are paid by the companies that hire them to find talent.
Looking for a senior or executive-level position? We can help!
Bradsby Group is an executive search firm, recruiting highly qualified candidates for senior and executive-level positions. If you’ve recently graduated with an advanced degree, such as an MBA, we’d love to connect with you. Contact our recruiters today.
Other helpful resources for finding a job after college:
See also our Candidate Tools page