College graduates usually leave school with a degree in hand and enthusiasm to start out their careers. But as they begin to look for a job, sometimes things don’t go as planned. You may lack several years of work experience, but there are still ways to show employers that you’re a quality candidate and the following tips might just help you out with that.
Networking is one of the best ways to find employment. And you could always start with those closest to you like members of your family, your friends, neighbours, or professors who could inform you of job opportunities when they come up. Social networking also allows you to tap into a hidden market where you could make connections. It’s no secret that a number of jobs are never advertised so you have to work extra hard to find out where these jobs are.
And as a student just out of college it would also be in your best interest to take advantage of networking events and other opportunities that place you in front of industry professionals. Sometimes all it takes to get a job later on is a friendly introduction. Such events are also prime areas to exchange business cards and when jobs open up, employers from these events may get in touch with you. They say it’s not what you know but who you know. That’s the harsh reality. That’s why you need to put yourself out there and meet people in different areas and levels in the field you’re interested in.
2. Organise and expand your search
Looking for a job is a serious endeavour and you need to treat your job search like an actual job. So the first thing you need to do is get organised. Keep a database of all the applications you’ve sent out and contacts you’ve obtained. Set aside a couple of hours a week if you’re still in school and spend even more during school breaks and after graduation.
The more time you put into it the higher your chances of finding a job. In the event that you’ve been searching for a job for a long time and nothing comes out of it, it might mean your search is a bit narrow. Sometimes all you need is to expand your requirements to find what you’re looking for. Try searching outside specific industries and career types. This might mean looking for a job in a different city or state. Even though you have the qualification for a higher level position it wouldn’t hurt to start in a more entry level role so that you can gain experience and progress naturally. This isn’t always ideal, but it might serve as a stepping stone for entering the career world. Also don’t just wait for one employer. Send out multiple resumes and keep a log of all your outreach to help you stay organised. Remember that your career is constantly up for negotiation. So if you try something and it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. Take whatever you’ve learned from the experience and move on to the next one.
3. Get in front of employers
Take advantage of every opportunity to interact with employers in person. This could be at campus interviews, job fairs and other networking events. A resume doesn’t really say much so an in person meeting, no matter how brief, gives you a chance to provide details about your experience and what you can do. Face to face encounters help employers confirm if a candidate will be a good fit for the job and organisation or not. Plus employers would be very impressed if you’d be bold enough to approach them and sell yourself as a potential employee.
4. Create a personal website
In this digital age there’s no better way of marketing yourself than creating a personal website. Creating a personal website can help job hunters show off their expertise and build their brand. Professionals in various industries benefit from having them. They contain portfolios and resumes and give a sneak peek of what the individual is like. These websites answer many questions that employers hold for interviews, placing them ahead of others. For someone fresh out of college, you can always use the site to share your resume, display class projects and blog about issues that may be related to the field you’d like to enter. This could also be a great way of standing out from others who probably don’t have a website of their own.
One can never have too much experience and getting an internship is one way to do it. Most fields offer internship opportunities and they act as valuable sources of education and experience during and even after college. This might feel like taking a step backwards but a lot of workers are using internships to hone their skills and learn new ones as well.
This would actually be a great for graduates who didn’t get the opportunity to go for an internship. Internship sponsors usually hire from their list of previous interns. In fact according to research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, internships lead to job offers for more than 66% of college grads. Keeping this in mind it would be wise to consider trying to get at least one internship right after college. Even if your internship won’t result in a job offer, it gives you an opportunity to gain valuable skills and contacts.
6. Tweak and tailor your resume
One of the reasons many graduates struggle to find jobs is the quality of their resumes. Sometimes even the greatest education and experience are unable to stand out with a poor resume. Be intentional about tailoring your resume to a particular job posting and ensure you highlight the specific skills and experience that the post requires. If you need help you can always consult your campus career centre.
But if you’d like, you could also hire a professional to walk you through the resume writing process. Writing a resume isn’t all that complicated but it can surely feel that way sometimes. Creating a flawless resume can be stressful and intimidating especially with a limited work history. But there are ways to make your resume stand out. The trick is to think big then get specific. Start with everything you’ve accomplished so far, then pare down until all that’s left is the information that’s most relevant to the job you want.
7. Consider having a part time job
Working part time might not be what you were hoping to do but it gives you the chance to earn money as you look for something a little more long-term. Even though your current job is not related to your dream career, use it as an opportunity to apply your skills and expertise. Look for additional responsibilities that you can handle and any chances to contribute in a meaningful way. The experience you get from these jobs will make a great addition to your resume, show employers your work ethic, your ability to take initiative and eventually boost your chances of getting hired.
8. Spend time volunteering
Volunteer work can be a great addition to your resume especially if you’re straight out of college and don’t have a lot of work experience. It’s also a great way to develop your professional network while still at college or in the process of looking for a job after graduating. Volunteering isn’t just a great way to contribute to the community.
Job seekers who volunteer for causes they believe in tend to develop new skills and meet new people, even potential employers, who could help them find a job. Your volunteer experience shows that you can get along with others, make a commitment and that you have the attitudes and skills that employers want in a potential employee.
9. Don’t neglect LinkedIn
LinkedIn isn’t just a great place to build a network, it also serves as another way to showcase what you have to offer, search and apply for jobs, building your own brand and connect with recruiters and potential employers. Recent graduates should take time to connect with potential employers on the site since most recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates.
To make the most out of the site, fill out your profile completely, connect with alumni from your school and take part in groups related to your field. You don’t have to wait until you graduate to create a profile. You can do this while still in school and build it from there. Even if you don’t have any work experience, you can still highlight your skills, education, extra-curricular activities, internships, volunteer work and even ask people for advice and recommendations.
10. Make use of your available resources
You might think that you don’t have enough resources at this point but you do. You have professors, college career centres, mentors from programs you’ve taken part in and your personal contacts. They can assist you with job leads, your resume, interviews, networking and offer advice. The campus centre which is usually overlooked by grad students can still be utilised after graduation.
Make an appointment with one of your professors to discuss how they could assist you prepare and even redirect your job search. You could show them your resume for feedback and share with them some of the job postings you applied to and maybe some of the strategies you used. Go out and search for all resources available to you since there isn’t a single job-search approach that guarantees success. Put effort in discovering and learning about different jobs out in the world. Don’t stop at just reading about them. Go out there and try out your interests, through job shadowing, a lecture, a small project, or even a practical hands on class.
11. Find a mentor
Having someone to give you direction as you navigate the first steps in your early career can help you overcome the stress and confusion of looking for a job. Getting guidance from someone who’s been through the same can’t be matched with what you learn within the four walls of a classroom. Some things can only be learned through experience, and mentors allow you to learn through theirs. A mentor can help you find new job opportunities by recommending you to people at companies you want to work for.
They can answer your questions about job titles and review your resume. They are knowledgeable professionals who can help you fashion your experience and interests in a way that would be appealing to employers. They basically support you throughout your job search. Graduating from college is a great achievement as it is.
So you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished and look forward to everything the future has to offer. Searching for a job isn’t always easy and a lot of job seekers make mistakes at some point, but despite the hiccups you can still get back on track and land your dream job. Your first one might not be as exciting, but it’s the first step towards bigger and better things. Keep at it and eventually you’ll connect with the right opportunity. With that being said, have a great day and see you all in the next one!