You are finally done with school. It feels like such relief until you realize that the real world is knocking at your door. Everyone that you run into asks the same question, “how is the job search going?”. It can get frustrating.
How is that job search going? Finding a job right out of school can be a challenge. These job hunting tips for recent graduates can help to give you a little more direction in scoring that perfect job.
What Are Your Expectations?
Often, one of the barriers to a recent graduate finding a job is the graduate’s expectations. A lot of graduates come out of school thinking they are going to hit “pay dirt” and walk into a six-figure job right out of school. The fact is while some people get lucky (not really luck. They have been working toward it) and do get that high-paying job right out of school, most people do not.
You may have to lower your expectations of what a job right after graduation looks like. One of the most important job hunting tips for recent graduates is to keep your expectations realistic. If you did not do any interning in school or make any connections in the industry that you are trying to break into, your road might be a little bumpy at first.
You have to adjust your expectations and keep in mind that everyone has to start somewhere. Some people will get off to an amazing start then stall later down the road. Other people will not get off to a great start but will be rewarded down the road with better jobs and a higher salary.
Very few people are able to obtain their dream job right out of school. Many people will start on the lowest rung of the ladder and work their way up. A secret that they do not tell you in college when they are talking about salaries is that the top-tier salary in your industry is earned by the people that, in most cases, have been in the industry the longest.
Get your expectations in order and understanding that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to building a career.
Get Your Foot In The Door
Your primary goal should be to get your foot in the door at the company that you want to work with or in the industry that you want to work in. For example, if you are looking for a police career with the CIA, you may want to start getting experience at the local level until positions open.
If you are a recent graduate and you plan on going on to dental school, consider shadowing dentists while you are waiting for classes to start. One of the most important things you can do while looking for a job in your field is to make connections in that field. In other words, keep moving forward, even if it is only baby steps that you are taking every day.
If you recently graduated and you are looking for a teaching job while you are waiting for the teaching position to open up, consider starting a tutoring service to generate some cash while you are waiting. You should be doing something that will add to your resume, and preferably what you do should be in your field.
Job Hunting Tips for Recent Graduates Are Not Always About Getting the Job
Sometimes job hunting tips for recent graduates need to be more about what you should do while you are trying to find that job. It can get frustrating sending out resume after resume and not even getting a call back for an interview, but you cannot let it get you down.
This is not the time to curl up and take a break. Get your expectations in order and do things that will move you forward in a positive direction. Start lining up any certifications or testing that you need to do. For example, even if you have not gotten that position with the financial house that you want to work with, consider finding a sponsor for your broker dealer exam in the meantime.
Getting testing and certification done while you are waiting to find a job will give you a leg up over the competition. Certifications look great on a resume and may help you to stand out among candidates.
No one likes to hear the word “volunteer” when they are looking for a job, but if you are waiting on employer responses, you should volunteer your time in the field you are hoping to enter. Volunteering gets you out there meeting people in your field and helps you to hone your skills.
Got an art degree? Consider volunteering at the local children’s hospital while you are waiting for employers to respond to your applications. Have a business degree? Consider putting your skills to work for a local non-profit that can use some administrative support. Staying busy will help to keep your mind off the stress of finding a job, and as an added bonus, volunteering looks great on a resume.
Take the Job That You Have Been Offered
Let’s say that you apply for a position at a health and wellness center as a supervisor. However, the job that was offered is not a supervisory position. The center has offered you a position that has some room for growth. You may initially feel insulted by the idea of not getting the supervisory position, but you still should take the job you were offered.
A job with growth potential is better than no job at all. Even if you have to make less than you planned on, half of the loaf is better than none. There are three good reasons why you should take a job in your industry even if it is not “THE” job:
- You get your foot in the door. If you have to take a lower than qualified position, at least you will be working in your industry.
- You never know what can happen. Taking a job that is not necessarily the position you applied for can open up a world of opportunities. You never know who you may meet. You never know what connections you will make.
- This is where you can start your network. Getting a hand up is a lot easier when you are meeting new people in the industry.
Whether you have been offered a position in a professional turf grass installation company as a horticulture science graduate or it is in sales with a business administration degree, take the job. It is always easier to find a job when you already have one. The position can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Reach Out to Classmates
One of the most valuable job hunting tips for recent graduates is to use the network you already have in place. While you may have yet to take the plunge into your industry, you do have a network or potential support, whether you know it or not.
Just because your sorority sister or frat brother works in graphic design, and you are looking for jobs in another field, it does not mean you should not reach out to them. Leaving no stone unturned in your pursuit of finding employment can reveal some surprises.
Let’s use your graphic design friend as an example. If you call Bob (graphic design guy) and touch base about your employment search as a golf pro and Bob happens to know someone that is a supervisor at the local golf course because they ordered his wholesale ada sign, you just made a valuable connection. Bob can reach out to his customer, drop your name and get you an interview.
Talk to everyone you know about your job hunt. Getting some free job hunting tips for recent graduates from anyone can put you on the right track. A cousin that works at one of the big steel distributor companies can have some surprising connections that may help you on your job hunt. Consider everyone you know as a potential source of information and networking.
Make Yourself a Stand-Out Candidate
Here are some job hunting tips for recent graduates that will make you stand out from the crowd:
- Polish your resume. We talk more about what to include in your resume a few paragraphs down, but make sure there are no misspellings on your resume and it is organized well.
- Be responsive. Check your emails frequently and respond to emails. Check your voicemail and respond to them.
- Be on time. If you make it to the interview stage, be on time.
If you get to the interview stage, show up on time and dress business conservatively. Even if the position is for installing an engineered hardwood floor, dress well. Making the right first impression carries a lot of weight.
Learn all that you can about the company and the position. Ask questions during the interview about the business and operations. It is important that you seem to be interested in the company and have taken the time to learn about the business.
Your Resume Is Your First Handshake
Some of the most valuable job hunting tips for recent graduates are not exactly about the hunt but more about how you present yourself to companies. Far too many recent graduates do not put enough time and energy into their resumes.
The first thing an employer learns about you is contained in a single sheet of paper. Your resume is a literal snapshot of your qualifications for the position. Your resume should be:
- Highly organized. Make your resume easy to read and ensure it is well organized. Ask a friend or family member to review it and make any suggestions for improvement.
- Do not sell your experience short. Even if you never held a formal job, you likely have experienced that you are not recording on your resume. If you babysat, delivered newspapers, or peer tutor at school, you have experience working. Translate the experience you do have into something that will get the companies attention.
- One size does not fit all. Tweak your resume for the job position that you are applying for. A lot of recent graduates make the mistake of sending out duplicate copies of the same resume. Fine-tune your resume for the position you are applying for.
Avoid decorative fonts, images, and overly wordy descriptions. Keep your resume simple, polished, and professional-looking.
Use Your Resource Offices At School
Many schools have placement assistant offices that can help steer you in the right direction. Some major corporations and many government agencies actively recruit on college campuses. Reaching out to the placement office at your old school can prove to be one of the highly valued job hunting tips for recent graduates that are often not talked about.
Placement offices often hold job fairs for both active students and recent graduates where you can meet potential employers. Getting your name on the mailing list for these job fairs can open up doors that you would not have access to otherwise.
While you are reaching out to your old alma mater, reach out to your old professors and instructors (via email, of course) and let them know you are out there searching for a job. Professors and instructors are typically highly connected and can be a great resource when you are searching for employment.
The Bottom Line
There are jobs out there. They may not be the jobs that you have planned on, but having a job that you do not necessarily want is far better than not having a job at all. The goal is to keep moving in a positive direction. Take the job that you need right now to stay financially afloat, but keep your eye on the prize and keep working towards that dream job.