So, you’re graduating (or already graduated) from college. Congratulations! Between the flurry of finals, ceremony preparations, family time, and all the other fun and hectic things that come with ending your school career, there’s one little thing in the back of every graduate’s mind. “What am I going to do next?”
By speaking to graduating seniors, I’ve narrowed down 3 common post-graduation paths:
- Taking a gap year
- Have a job lined up right after graduation
- Uh… Wait I’m supposed to be looking for a job BEFORE I graduate??
Now I’m not here to tell you how to live or what not to do (unless you’re doing option 3, in which case don’t do that), I’m here to give you tips on maximizing your chances at landing a job post-graduation regardless of your approach!
5 Job Searching Tips for Recent College Graduates
1. When Should I Start Applying for Jobs?
Now. Seriously. Here’s the thing, on average it takes new graduates 6 months to land their first job. Meaning if you’re sitting there thinking “nah, I’ll just start looking for jobs AFTER graduation”, you’re going to be half a year behind the person who started applying in January. When it comes to applying for jobs, follow the old mantra of “the sooner the better”.
2. For this with no work experience:
Some of you have been doing internships or part time gigs while going to school, and that’s fantastic! You have experiences to draw on. But what if those experiences are not necessarily relevant to the career field you want to work in post-graduation? Or what if those experiences don’t exist at all? And you have 0 work experience?
This is honestly a much smaller deal than most people realize. Here’s the thing, I’ve sat on the same side as HR managers and recruiters before and trust me they know that the majority of new graduates aren’t going to have too much relevant experience. So, what’s the workaround? Talk about what you learned and did at school!
For instance, if you’re a software developer and you had 0 internships or work experience, talk about what you learned in class or start doing the programmers equivalent to doodling and show off your portfolio. If you’re a business/accounting graduate, or engineering graduate, or liberal arts graduate, same concept applies. Talk about relevant projects and assignments you did that show off your knowledge and capability to perform the job functions. After all, being able to learn how to do the job you want is what’s going to make managers decide to hire you.
3. Completely ignore the job requirements and apply anyway.
The reward for applying to a job you want but are under-qualified for heavily outweighs the risk. Best case scenario, you get your dream job! Worst case, you lose the 10-30 minutes it takes to apply.
Treat the job application process like online dating (horrible, I know). When you’re merely thinking of candidates, you have a laundry list of qualities that you fantasize about but in reality, you can be completely enamored by someone who doesn’t check off half the qualities in your list. Same for hiring managers.
4. Gap year and job-hopping conundrum
Unemployment is scary. It’s even scarier when you realize that the longer you’re unemployed, the more unemployable you become. According to the data, the rates of finding a job decrease by ~50% after 6-8 months of unemployment.
Fortunately, both extended periods (>=6 months) of unemployment and job-hopping matters less the earlier you are in your career. It’s hard getting into the career or company you want, and you’re not alone. Here’s the thing, when you’re young and starting out you’ll get the benefit of doubt due to your potential and because everyone knows what it feels like to be unsure of what you want to do when you’re in your early 20’s. This is not an excuse to be lazy in your job search or mindlessly hop from job to job, but it does give you a bit of a cushion so you don’t feel trapped at your first job or two.
5. Utilize Your Network
I can’t stress enough just how important it is to use everything in your arsenal when looking for a job, especially LinkedIn! Again, over 90% of recruiters are on LinkedIn. It makes no sense not to utilize it to your advantage. Check out one of our other posts for more tips on how to build your LinkedIn profile.
Graduating college is a huge milestone, and it's important to prepare yourself for the life ahead of you!