Following your last finals and finally saying goodbye to college, the real world hits you pretty quick. While I am sure you can remember many late and difficult nights meeting deadlines during your studies, job hunting becomes the next big challenge in your life. Finding that first job after college can be a full-time gig in itself.
This can be a difficult time for many graduates. As employers look for experience, and you seek to obtain it, you may feel discouraged or lost as you apply. But, before you throw in the towel, here are some tips for finding your first job after college:
- Update your resume. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many recent college grads miss the mark on this one. Do a little resume audit, and make sure it is updated with recent relevant information. Include your grade point average (GPA) and any college or other activities, including community volunteering. It is commonly recommended to attempt to keep your resume one page long, but this can be difficult. Try not to exceed two. Always update it when you gain new skills. You don’t need a new job to attain new knowledge. Examples include learning a new language or website coding in your now free time. These talents should be added on your resume.
- Look for internships. Opportunities are often right under your nose. If you are having a hard time finding internships in your area, try to create one for yourself from a company in which you’d like to work. Internships are a great way to build experience that you can include on your newly updated resume. Even if you have a couple internships under your belt already from college, you may need to do more until an employer takes your bait.
- Follow up with your connections. Throughout your college years, you’ve been exposed to connections you may not even realize you have. Reach out to old professors from your major to see if they can inform you of available positions. If you completed any internships that did not lead to an employment opportunity, follow up with them to see if there are any openings or if they can provide you with a reference. Networking is a great way to find a new job without using a resume. Friends and families can also be a part of your job network. Be sure to ask for help as you continue the job hunt. Not to mention, you can check with your Alma mater’s career office to check on any upcoming opportunities.
- Attend career fairs. Face to face interactions still prove to be effective. Being able to talk to potential employers in person is important so that you can ask questions, make a first impression and discover jobs that will match your skill set. Many colleges host these career fairs, but you don’t always need to be a college student to attend them. Check local community boards and websites to see what job fairs may be coming up in your area.
- Be flexible. Jobs do not need to be black and white. If a company has room for growth or potential for you to utilize your degree, you should consider applying even for positions outside of your field. For example, if you are hoping to make it as a social media manager in a big corporate company, try applying for a front desk or assistant position first to try working your way up. Don’t worry if you do not get nor find that dream job after college; if they were easy to obtain, everyone would have a dream job. A lot of people end up going with alternatives like an online criminal justice degree instead of attending brick and mortar institutions.
- Don’t rely on one resource. There are multiple resources you can use when applying for jobs. Sites like Indeed.com as well as your local career center are just a couple examples. The more you are able to distribute your experience summary to potential jobs, the better your chances of landing one quickly after college.
- Personalize your materials. You will have a better chance of standing out to employers if you personalize both your cover letters and resume to the job listing. Don’t talk about your gardening skills in the cover letter if the job is for writing English papers. Make sense?
One of the most important things to remember during the application process is to keep applying. You may face rejection, but this is a normal part of the process and should be expected. Keep going anyway, even though it can be a daunting task. Stay positive and remember that every time you get your resume out, you are regularly exposing yourself to new opportunities. Practice makes perfect, and the more you apply, the closer you are to landing that first job.
What tactics did you take when applying for your first job after college?
Jenn Clark is a writer, PR specialist, entrepreneur, blogger and coffee enthusiast. A lover of laughter, traveling and cheese, she’s written about her life experiences here at suburbanfinance while at the same time growing other young professionals. You can find more of her work at Jennblogs.co.