How To Find a Job After College
College is supposed to prepare us for our careers, but school doesn’t always do the best job preparing us for the real world. Getting a job after college might seem like a simple shift, but the jump can be a lot longer than you anticipate.
Ultimately, getting a job doesn’t just rely on your degree. There are plenty of other things that employers care about just as much— if not more— than your diploma. Leadership experience, technical knowledge, and communication skills are all in high demand, regardless of your major.
However, even with all of the above, you might be a little lost on how to get a job after college.
Table of Contents
- 1 Getting a Job Before You Graduate College
- 2 How to Get a Job After College
Getting a Job Before You Graduate College
It’s always a good idea to start looking before you graduate — even before your final year of school. That way, your transition can be seamless.
Don’t wait until the last semester of your senior year to start this process. The earlier you start, the more connections and opportunities you may have. Companies won’t always sign you on before you graduate, but putting out feelers is never a bad idea. Businesses can guide you on what they like to see from applicants, so you can get a better idea of how to reach your goals.
Apply for Internships
Internships are a great way to gain experience in your field. They’re better to try and get now as a college student rather than post-graduation, when you’ll have more pressure to find a paying job. Even if you are working while in school, it’s a good idea to apply. Internships are competitive, so cast a wide net.
Visit the Career Services Center
This is your biggest asset, so take advantage of it! So many students ignore their career center, but it’s there to help you. Make an appointment to talk with them about your prospects, and they can offer you resources, guides, and even contacts!
Leverage Networking Opportunities
Even if you don’t get any contacts from your career center, you’ve no doubt built some up over your time in college. Keep in touch with friends who’ve graduated; they might be able to pass on information about who’s hiring. You’ve built a lot of good relationships in college. Don’t be afraid to tap that well.
How to Get a Job After College
Okay, maybe you’ve already graduated and the above section doesn’t really apply to you. Don’t worry; not having a job lined up as you take the stage at commencement doesn’t mean you are doomed to unemployment. You can definitely find a job after college, too.
Build a Resume and LinkedIn Profile
Start by creating a resume and a LinkedIn profile. The latter is a great way to outreach to employers and your peers. LinkedIn is like a public, online cross between a cover letter and a resume. Here you can detail your interests, professional goals, volunteer work, hobbies, and accomplishments both in and outside the classroom. Your profile is customizable, and can give potential employers and recruiters the chance to see what all you can do without putting you into a box the way job applications or resumes can do.
Building a Resume
Although each job you apply for will likely warrant a custom-tailored resume, it can be helpful to build a “master” resume for your own reference. Here, you can assemble everything you have to offer: every job, volunteership, internship, or leadership role; every degree, certification, or extracurricular you were involved in; every technical, social, hard or soft skill you possess; anything that could possibly help you get the attention of a hiring manager and set you apart from the competition. This way, you have a comprehensive resource to refer to every time you need to craft a unique resume to apply for a specific job. Simply select from the master resume, and you can assemble a concise, optimized, and unique resume appropriate to each job you apply for.
Keeping Yourself Relevant
However, “building” a resume and profile doesn’t mean just creating them. After graduation, you might just want to relax, but employers will want to see that you’ve still been productive. Engage in community events, volunteer for charities, coach a sports team… Anything to showcase what a well-rounded individual you are later on. Don’t let your LinkedIn or your resume get stale; you should be constantly editing, revising, and growing them. The more tasks you take on, the more you learn and practice skills, and the more networking you do to build relationships, the more your LinkedIn profile and resume should grow — even after you land a job.
Keep Applying for Internships
Internships are a little harder to handle after you graduate, since you probably have more bills and student debt to pay back. However, if you can manage it, internships are still a great way to showcase your talent, gain experience, and add to your resume.
Stay In Touch With Professors and Career Services
Many people forget their professors and career counselors once they graduate, but that’s a mistake. Professors and career counselors aren’t just for students! They can be great references, advocates, and resources for you later on. Keep in touch with them so that you can reach out for help. You don’t have to be best friends, but an email once in a while is a good idea.
Join an Industry Group
Whether through your alumni network, Greek chapters, or even old school clubs, it’s important that you connect to a professional network. This solidifies your old relationships and will help you learn the latest hiring news early. Additionally, it never hurts to have an abundance of references.
Tailor Your Resume and Interview Skills
Do not send out the same resume to every job! Yes, you might be putting the same information on it, but every resume should be customized for the job in question. Understand that for any given job today, you are more likely to have a machine automatically screening your resume before any human or hiring manager sees it. Optimizing your resume to pass the initial screening process requires you to ensure it contains the skills and experiences solicited in the job description.
Some jobs might rely heavily on interpersonal communication— consider starting with your leadership experience. Others will require a high level of technical expertise, so you might lead with your technical proficiencies. This can make a world of difference between getting an interview and getting the cold shoulder.
Once you get the interview, though, don’t freeze up! Practice your interview skills. Make sure to dress appropriately, and arrive early. You don’t want to make a bad impression here. A resume can tell an impressive story, and the interview is your chance to add depth to that story, and demonstrate the skills and persona you presented in print.
Be Prepared for Entry Level Work
Just because you have a degree, doesn’t mean that you’re automatically entitled to your dream job. You’ll have to pay your dues and work your way up. So you might have to start with some grunt work, but understand that it’s a stepping stone towards your larger goals. Be patient, and enjoy the relatively low levels of responsibility while you can.
Finding a job after college can seem impossible, but in reality it just has a long payoff. Dig your heels in for a lot of resume-tweaking, network-building, and answering common interview questions.
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Dayton is a chronic Wikipedia addict, which is detrimental to her social life but stellar for her writing. She resides in Boise, ID, surrounded by her own frantic outlines, highlighted encyclopedias, and potatoes. The latter was not by choice.
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published September 15, 2018.