How To Get A Job After Graduating College
Congrats on graduating! And, welcome to the adult world where life is full of responsibilities.
It’s been over 8 months since I started my first full time job and my life has completely changed within that year. I went from a graduating student to a working adult in the span of 2 months. I moved out of an apartment with my college friends in San Diego to staying with my parents post-grad to living on my own in an entirely new city, not knowing anyone.
I’m still trying to figure this adult life out, but I thought I could share my knowledge on how to get a job after you graduate, especially if recruitment hasn’t worked out or you don’t have a job lined up. And, that can be really scary because you’re unsure of what your path will be and it’s on you to make one.
1. Take a Break
First off, take a break. Yes, take a break. You deserve it. Graduating and getting that degree that took you years to obtain was not easy.
All those nights burning out your brain just to memorize some formula. Reading some long passage that’s not even on the exam while you have bags under your eyes that are the size of a plum. Carbo-loading yourself with snacks because you don’t have the time to get a decent meal. Talk about freshman 15. Your brain needs a break, so go on that trip with your friends or chill at home to do absolutely nothing. I did the latter for 2 weeks.
I don’t suggest working right away because the transition from student to adult may be hard on you. Give yourself time to realize that school may not be in your future anymore, especially since you did 22 years of nothing but school. That’s all you’ve known and that no longer being apart of your life can be scary. Not knowing my path was scary for me.
2. Figure Out What You Want to Try or Do
Maybe you know what you want to do and maybe you don’t. Either way, that’s fine. But when it comes to applying for a job, you need to be specific in what you’re looking for because that will layout the foundation in your job searches, your resume, and how you interview.
For example, I’ve done a lot of different things in marketing, from advertisements and sales to content writing to SEO, but I wanted to go into something more number-based with marketing. Next thing I know, I’m working as a digital marketing analyst.
For those who don’t know what they want to do, take the time to think about your likes and dislikes. Start with a broad field that you’re interested in, such as accounting or engineering. Then get more specific. For engineering, there’s mechanics, electrical, civil, etc. You can get even more specific, like a chemical engineer in the food industry. As you gain experiences in these areas, you’ll get an idea of what you like and don’t like, but you have to start somewhere.
I know there are people who don’t know what their passion is, but that’s because they didn’t go out, explore, and try new things. I hated traveling before, but that’s because it wasn’t fun with my family. When I studied abroad, I non-stop traveled with my friends and it became my passion. You won’t know until you try it.
3. Build a Resume and CV
I think this post on “Creating Your Resume” is a good reference to help you build your resume.
I’ll write a different post on this because this is its own thing and there’s some outdated stuff that is no longer needed. Basically it’s a list of your past experiences related to what you want to do.
You need your education, professional experiences, and skills/interests. There’s also volunteer work, certification, and awards, but you determine what’s relatable to the job position and what isn’t necessary.
Don’t have professional experience like an internship? That’s fine, but then you need to set realistic expectations. It’s a competitive world out there and employers like to see you have relatable experience because they need to be able to trust you and your capabilities if they gave you the work.
So, what can you do if you don’t have experience? Use what you got. Any hobbies or clubs you were involved in during college? Any part-time jobs you did? Classes where you demonstrated a skill? Started anything on your own? Use those experiences to showcase that you fit the person they are looking for.
Tailor your resume to the job position. I have about 3 tailored resumes for different fields, accounting, data marketing, and sales because I wasn’t sure what I was going to end up doing.
Important: 1 page max please! The employer has hundreds of applicants and has no time to read the dissertation of your life.
Cover letters aren’t my forte, but it’s a letter that introduces who you are and goes into a little more depth than your resume.
For the introduction, I wrote a paragraph of what I studied and why I’m interested in the position.
The following two paragraphs were in depth examples of my past experiences that example why I believe I’m qualified enough for the position. I would state a problem that occurred in the past, my executed solution, the results from implementing my solutions, and what I learned from it.
Depending on the position, I wrote out a few classes I took pertaining to the job, too.
To conclude, I stated that my resume better highlights my education and work experience, and ended with a polite call to action that was open ended.
I think Glassdoor’s “How to Write a Cover Letter” is a good reference and gives you more details in creating one.
Networking is a very powerful tool to land that job. Even if you think you’re not so great at it, still go out and try because you never know. It would save you a lot of time and energy in the future in finding a job versus going through the harder route of applying to jobs without a connection.
You can get in touch with people you know, such as friends, family members, former employers, and they may refer you to people they know.
Go out to career events hosted by your school or google career fairs in your area. When you meet these people, it will come in handy if you created an elevator pitch beforehand because many others will want to meet these people as well so time is limited. And, ask for or trade business cards.
There’s also LinkedIn. I searched for people who were working in the field I was interested in and cold email them. If they reply, ask for an informational interview either in person or on phone.
5. Job Search
Start looking! These are the sites I used to find my job.
Sometimes you’ll have to apply on the site and fill out all the tedious information. Other times you’ll have to email them. When you do, don’t just attach your resume and CV, and leave the body of the email blank. Please write a little something, like a thank you.
6. Prepare for Interview
Copies of Resume and CV
Bring at least 5 copies of your resume and cover letter in a pad folio to the interview. This also comes in handy at networking events or meeting with professionals. You always want to be prepared.
Dress for Success
Any time you meet with a professional either in person or video chat, dress the part. If you’re serious about the position, then show them by dressing up professionally.
“You only have 7 seconds to make a lasting first impression.”
Practice giving a firm handshake. Limp and flimsy handshakes make me feel weird and gross.
I met a Wells Fargo representative when I was a freshman, and he grilled it into our heads to always stand when you give a handshake. Never sit. His interviewee was sitting when they shook hands, and after the interview, he immediately tossed his resume down the trash. It’s because standing shows a level of respect and you don’t want to disrespect the interviewer.
There’s this article on “Handshake Etiquette.”
Practice Answering Interview Questions
Practice, practice, practice.
The more you practice, the less nervous you’ll be. Practice with a friend and let them give you feedback. You may find out things you didn’t noticed or know before.
When you answer these questions, be specific in the example you use, but also tell it like a story. As mentioned before, state the issue, your solution, results of your implemented solution, and what you learned from it.
I used this list of 150 Interview Questions. The questions start to be more or less the same as will your answers to them. I suggest writing these out and just have a set of answers to use because they will come in handy in the future.
Tip: If you have a phone interview, pull out your list of questions and answer out so you’ll sound more prepared, concise and confident. I understand what’s it like to stumble on what you say while you’re nervous.
YES! Always say yes and have at least 3 questions prepared to ask the interviewer. Even if they don’t, you initiate and ask them. This shows that you are actually interested in the what the company does and shows your drive to exceed in the role.
I’ve used this list of interview questions before, Top 12 Best Questions to Ask at the End of the Job Interview.
Thanks for reading! I really hope you get the job you want or find what you’re looking for. Let the journey begin!