Anxious about getting a job after college? When you are a student, you may think that finding a job after college and starting your career should be easy. After all, you just successfully finished your degree and you’re ambitious, hard-working, and ready to make money. Unfortunately, many college graduates don’t have jobs lined up for them and it often takes months of writing resumes and cover letters, filling out applications, and going on stressful interviews to find an opportunity.
If you are wondering how to find a job after college, you will need to create a step-by-step plan that leverages your degree, skills, and network to get you ahead of the competition. Below, you will learn how to manage if you can’t find a job after college, strategies to improve your marketability, and ways to expand your job search. This guide should help position you to get one of the best careers for the future.
Getting A Job After College
One of the most difficult aspects of finding a job after college is that the labor market is saturated with applicants – students like you who just graduated. Often this means you will need to work harder and smarter. Looking for a job and not getting any immediate results may be frustrating and depressing, so it is important that you stay positive throughout the search and develop an efficient system.
One of the most effective ways to find a job in today’s economy is to network. While you were in college, you may have joined a fraternity or sorority, which can be one way to extend your personal relationships into professional ones. Connect with friends to see where they are working now and who they may know in your field of interest.
Additionally, your school’s alumni association and career center should be able to help you widen your network and provide an additional job site to check out for open positions. Be sure to attend networking events, functions, conferences, seminars, and career fairs on campus or in your city. Finally, reach out to older alumni who may be more established in their careers to learn about jobs available at their companies.
Social media is another way that you can expand your network. Make sure that you have created a LinkedIn page with a professional photo and an updated resume. You can connect it to your other social media sites and keep up with everyone’s careers as well as social lives. This way, when you are looking for a job, you can reach out to people via LinkedIn or Facebook, and ask them for suggestions on finding a job. If you know someone that works at a company you applied to, you can reach out and make a contact.
You can also extend your network by joining professional organizations in your field. This is a great thing to put on your resume because it shows that you are invested in the industry and your career. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded and experienced people in your industry to build relationships. These same individuals can help make introductions when you are looking for your first job or in the future, when you are looking for a promotion or raise.
Broaden Your Search
When you are looking through listings, you may have a dream job, industry, city, title or company you want. You might even have unrealistic salary expectations that prevent you from applying to certain positions. When you widen your search to include all the different types of jobs that your degree qualifies you for, including locations, fields, and types of companies, you will increase your chances of finding jobs. For entry-level positions, you should be open to taking the best opportunity available, regardless of geography.
Attending career fairs and meeting with recruiters can widen your search, too. When you go to the career fair, be ready with resumes and cover letters to leave with the representatives or human resource coordinators you interact with. Try to develop a meaningful relationship with one or two employees because a job in your field may open up within that company in the next few months, and you will have created a contact for it.
Get Help With Your Resume
If you are not getting called back on your job applications, you may need help with your resume. There are a few ways to make your resume stand out. First, you should research resume samples online to give you ideas on what good resumes look like. Be sure to pay attention to formatting, styling and phrasing – always use professional language such as resume power words and industry terminology. If you are unsure how to describe your past work experience or internships, look at similar job listings and use their language.
If you are interested in getting a second-opinion on your resume, visit the career center at your university. The number of recent graduates with jobs after graduation reflects on the college, so each university has a vested interest in helping you find a position as soon as possible. The career center may offer one-on-one counseling that can teach you how to improve your resume or offer classes on how to write it correctly. Your state government may also offer this service through their unemployment offices.
Practice Your Interview Skills
Practice makes perfect, so take the time to practice answering common interview questions. This preparation can make a huge difference in landing a good job when there is stiff competition from other candidates with similar qualifications. You can set-up mock interviews with friends or family or you can attend workshops. Remember to make eye contact and exhibit relaxed body language.
What To Do If You Can’t Get A Job
When you cannot find a job after graduating from college, it affects all aspects of your life. You must have a plan in place so that you can continue to survive and get by until you land your first job. You should put this plan into place as soon as you graduate to avoid depleting your savings.
Move Back Home
You should move back in with your parents if you are having a really difficult time finding a job after college. This can take some of the financial pressure off of you, especially since rent is likely your biggest monthly expense. Additionally, you will be in a positive and supportive environment during this challenging time in your life, and it will help you maintain a positive attitude and healthy lifestyle. However, you should have a timeline and exit plan in place when moving back in. And don’t forget to pitch in around the house as a “thank you” for your parents’ financial assistance.
Defer Student Loans
Fortunately, most student loans come with a 6 month grace period; otherwise, you should contact your student loan provider or servicer to put your loans into deferment until you find a job.
Make A Budget and Cut Expenses
You will need to reduce your spending and cut back on daily living expenses so that you don’t run up a lot of debt on your credit cards. Take advantage of your graduation money and gifts to avoid credit card debt for the next few months. A budget will help you limit your spending and manage the little money that you do have while you are still looking for work.
What To Do If You Don’t Get A Job Immediately After Graduating
If you don’t have any strong job leads within the first month, then you need to consider growing your work experience, qualifications, and skills. You can even test your entrepreneurial spirit by starting a low-cost, low-capital business online.
Part-Time Work or Temp Jobs
One reason you can’t find a job after college may be that you do not have any related work experience. If you currently have a part-time job, you should keep it and try to get one in your field of interest. It is much easier to find a job while you are employed. You can also work as a temp to build your job skills and widen your network.
Volunteer work is one option that can help you gain additional work experience, especially if the company you are interested in is offering internship opportunities. You can volunteer in your community or for organizations such as the AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or Teach For America. There are several programs that will even pay you and a portion of your student loans while you volunteer, but they usually require a longer time commitment.
Go Back To School
Going back to school may not be your first choice if you’ve been looking forward to starting your career. Nevertheless, if a graduate degree has always been a consideration down the line, it might make sense to complete your degree and graduate into a stronger economy. In addition to better credentials and a stronger resume, your starting salary will be higher, too.
On the other hand, a graduate degree is a costly undertaking in terms of money, time and energy. Do not make this decision lightly or out of frustration just to do something and spare your ego.
Start Your Own Business
Another option is to start your own business. You may be able to offer a skill that you learned while you were in school, or you may turn something you love into a business. Service-oriented businesses like consulting, interior design or freelance writing may make sense because they require little start-up capital. If you majored in computer science, starting your own web design and development company could be a great opportunity. You can even learn how to make money blogging using affiliate marketing.