If you’re a recent college graduate, Congratulations! You should be very proud of all the hard work that went into your diploma. If you don’t have a job lined up prior to graduation, you might be wondering how to get your first job after college. With the current state of the economy and your student loans to pay off, it can be quite frustrating,
Many companies have very few open positions or may not be hiring at all. This is especially true for entry-level positions due to the fact that so many experienced professionals are currently in the job market and some have become desperate. When your job search feels like an impossible task, it’s easy to get discouraged. However, there are a few things that you can do to make sure you stand out with potential employers.
Finding a Job After College
Landing that first job after college can be a stressful (and exciting) process for many college seniors and recent grads. However, you can use a few simple tips to help you get ahead and noticed by employers.
Here are tips for landing your first job after college.
1. Check With Your Career Center.
Start by utilizing your college’s career center for opportunities, career advice, and services and programs available.
If you opted to talk to a career advisor at your school’s career center, you will be in good hands. They can help prepare you for interviews with the most common interview questions, give you career goals, develop your resume and help set up a job search plan suited for your career. One sure bet that can lead to a full-time job is attending your campus job fairs on campus, these offer you opportunities to get hired by companies who want to hire students at your school. Leave your Bloomington campus apartment and visit your campus’ job fair soon! Win-win.
2. Experience Counts.
If you have any hands-on experience that is related to your field of interest, make sure you use it to your advantage. This could include gig jobs, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or internships. If you did not have the chance to do this prior to graduation, it’s not too late. While you might not find an internship program, you can always look for a part-time job or even a volunteer position so that you can proudly say that you have proven experience. Depending on your area of interest, you may also want to consider temp jobs. Many employers use temporary employment agencies to pre-screen potential entry-level employees because it offers them a risk-free opportunity to determine if the person is a good fit for their organization. As they have a chance to evaluate their work and see that they have potential, many top-of-the-line temp workers are offered permanent positions.
Along the same line of thought, you might also consider a position that is a little below your standards if it allows you to get your foot in the door with a highly-desired potential employer. It will give you a chance to showcase your skills and show that you are motivated. Make sure that you excel at the tasks that you are given and continue to ask for more responsibility. Someone may keep you in mind when an entry-level position in your area of expertise is available.
3. Networking makes a difference.
Knowing the right people makes a huge difference when it comes to finding a job at any level. While employers will advertise that they hire the person most qualified for the job, the vast majority of positions are attained by knowing the right people. While working within a company to gain experience will allow you to make valuable contacts, don’t discount the people that you will meet in the volunteer world. Many large corporations promote community service which means that you could be working next to an executive while handing out food to the homeless or walking for a popular charity. The best rule of thumb is to always act as if the next person you come into contact with could be your big break. If professional organizations for your specialty area near you, join them and become a regular participant.
4. Target your resume and cover letter.
While you will want a standard resume that you can hand out at a moments notice, it’s also a great idea to tailor your resume towards your prospective employer when you can. For a tailored resume, make sure that you emphasize any classes or hands-on experience that is particularly relevant to their operation. You should also include a cover letter with each resume that is customized for each employer. When possible, find out who is making the hiring decision and address the cover letter directly to them.
In general, start off with your educational background. Make sure you list any awards that you may have received. List your GPA in general or within your major if it was outstanding. You can also provide examples of classes that you think will be particularly relevant.
Next, list your experience whether it was paid or unpaid. If you don’t have any experience that you feel is relevant, think of something that would apply. Even if you’ve only flipped burgers, find something that would show you have a great attitude and the proper motivation. You can also check out resume revision services that can help you along the way.
5. Have letters of recommendation ready.
In addition to listing references on your resume, ask a few of those valuable contacts you’ve cultivated to write letters of recommendation that you can attach to your resume with your cover letter. While many will not take the time to call your references while they are reviewing resumes, most people will scan reference letters.
The Bottom Line
While wondering how to get your first job after college, you have probably used a few online job sites. If you haven’t tried a niche site yet, they are a great way to develop contacts and find job leads. Find one or two that focus on your career choice and spend a little time there. Get to know the other users, and let them get to know you.
As you become a part of their online community, you will find that they will pass on job leads as they hear about them. In addition, many prospective employers will come to niche sites to recruit prospective employees. Here are some of the top niche sites to check out and have you stop wondering how to get a job after college.