Graduation was the easy part. Now we’ll give you the college grad job tips you need to launch your career.
Welcome to the world of the college grad job seeker.
Although it’s been a while since we last donned a cap and gown, we still remember how scary it can be to land that first college grad job. Expenses are piling up and your parents are breathing down your neck to put your diploma to use in the workplace. You’ve invested time and resources in your college education, and you have the loans to prove it.
Now it’s time for the payoff. But for the average 2013 college grad job success won’t happen by itself. Finding the right entry-level job is going to take hard work and a job search strategy designed to give you a leg up on the competition.
College Grad Job Challenges
As a recent college grad, job search challenges are a dime a dozen. You have the academic credentials to work in your field, but there are other factors that can present obstacles—even for an entry-level job.
- No related work experience. A lack of related work experience is one of the most common college grad job challenges. If you’ve had internships, you can demonstrate at least some industry experience. If not, you may want to work as an intern for a few months to improve your resume and increase the odds of landing a desirable position.
- No network. Networks matter in today’s job marketplace. No one expects you to have hundreds of top-tier contacts in your field. But starting right now, you need to become proactive about expanding your network through alumni contacts, friends and industry events. Ultimately, 90 percent of your network will consist of people you already know; the remaining 10 percent will be new contacts acquired through intentional effort.
- No real world skills. Many college grad job seekers have theoretical or academic backgrounds, but lack the practical skill sets that are essential for their career paths. Employers often recognize the need to train new workers in specific skill areas, but if you can beef up your real world skills your resume will undoubtedly be more attractive to interviewers and decision-makers.
Top 5 College Grad Job Tips
The 2013 job market is better than last year, but it’s still highly competitive. To help this year’s crop of college grad job seekers, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, director of career & professional development at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, offers several 2013 college grad job tips.
- Your First College Grad Job Won’t Be Your Last. Research shows that workers change careers (not just jobs) five to seven times throughout their working lives. This gives you the freedom to try out different jobs and determine whether they have career potential, but don’t settle for roles that don’t play to your strengths. Your first college grad job is the first step on your lifelong career path and you can change your mind (or your career) as often as you like.
- Provide Solutions. It’s tempting to enter the college grad job marketplace with a focus on getting what you want. But successful job seekers understand that in the current economy, it’s not uncommon to land contract or temporary work that eventually leads to a full-time job offer. Instead of focusing on what employers can offer you, emphasize what you can offer to potential employers and how you can provide a solution to their issues or concerns.
- Equip Your Existing Network. As a college grad job seeker, you’ve probably been inundated with polite offers from family and friends to help you however they can. Instead of simply thanking them and forgetting about their offers, give them specific information about your strengths and skills, and ask them to help you connect you with their circles of influence. In many cases, family acquaintances will already have the connections you need to get your foot in the door, especially if they are willing to offer a personal referral.
- Be Flexible. According to recent research conducted by Braun Research, 47 percent of hiring managers across a range of industries advise college grad job seekers without experience to be flexible and consider starting in a different area of the company. They also said it’s more valuable to network than to go back to school if you don’t have any relevant experience.
- Get LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the top professional networking resource for college grad job seekers and everyone else in the job market. Since recruiters frequently troll this site, you need to build and improve your LinkedIn profile ASAP, with a professional photo, compelling summary statement and recommendations or endorsements from key contacts.
It may take some time to land the job that is right for you. But by working hard and following a handful of college grad job tips, you can significantly improve the odds of securing a quality entry-level job and lay the groundwork for a successful career trajectory.