Congratulations! After four years studying your butt off, going to class, and partying (duh!), you finally graduate. It’s a huge accomplishment, but the fun has only just begun. As a recent graduate in a shrinking job market, you’ve probably been asked regularly where you’re going to be working. If you’re lucky, you’ve already received a job offer. If not, this guide is for you.
I’ve spent the past year job hunting, and only just recently received an offer for a full-time position. In that amount of time, I went through highs and lows, bursts of depression and bliss, and learned a lot. Below, is a sample of some of the things I took away from my job search:
Research beforehand- Before you even think of applying to an open position, do your research! Go through the job description with a fine tooth comb. Play around on the website, and read about what the company does, who the head honchos are, and check out their social media platforms (if available).
Next, Google the company, and see what comes up. Are there press releases? Were they recently involved in a scandal? When you submit an application, you’re expressing an interest and desire in working for the specified company.
If after all your research you find there’s something you don’t like – don’t apply! It’s a bigger waste of time to find out much later in the game (like in your second follow up interview), that you’re no longer interested.
Maintain an excel spreadsheet- After applying to just a few jobs, you’ll quickly realize just how much information you need to keep track of on a day-to-day basis. In my experience, I found the best way to keep everything organized was with a spreadsheet in excel.
For every job, note your log-in information, your point of contact with the company, what the position title was, and any additional material. Initially it may seem like a hassle, but you’ll thank yourself later when you receive a callback for an interview two months after you submitted an application.
Find a side job- As you search for full-time job that makes use of your recently acquired degree, find some kind of work to do while you wait. It doesn’t have to require much more than 20 hours a week, as long as it gets you out of the house and puts some money in your pocket. Consider waitressing, nannying, working in retail, or filing paperwork in a small office. Who knows – the connections you make in a part-time position could lead to a full-time job!
Have cover letters on file- The best way to ensure your application stands out from a pack of other recent college graduates is with a well-written cover letter. However, spending every day drafting new cover letters takes too much time. Instead, spend your first week job hunting creating four or five outstanding versions that only require making minor tweaks before being sent out. Come time to submit an application, you’ll only need to change a couple of key words before pressing submit.
Job hunt all day- Do not, under any circumstance, sit with your laptop all day and apply for jobs. It’s not healthy, and you will quickly go insane. Instead, develop a schedule for each week that balances job hunting with other activities. Make time to hang out with your friends, work out, and catch up on your favorite series on Netflix.
Expect instant responses- If a position is listed online, it would be logical to think that the employer would want to fill that position immediately. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. After sending your application, it’s more likely going to be weeks or months before you hear any good or bad news. Try not to dwell – just keep sending out applications! When you get a call back, it will be a pleasant surprise.
Rely on just one method of search- Do you remember writing your first research paper in middle school? If your teacher was anything like mine, they strongly encouraged the use of multiple sources. Now that you’re looking for a full-time job, the same rule should apply. The internet is a wonderful resource, but it will only get you so far. Eventually, you’ll notice just how repetitive listings are. Don’t forget to network, go to job fairs, and stay in touch with your college career center! The more people you can pass your resume onto, the better.
Apply for jobs you’re unqualified for- As you read through the job posting, you notice it seems a little out of your reach. They’re looking for someone with three years of experience developing large-scale marketing campaigns; you interned with a small company for three months your junior year. Stay strong, and resist applying. Employers will pass over your application without skipping a beat. Instead, spend your time on postings that you stand a fair chance. It will be worth your while in the end.
By doing any of the above things, I can’t guarantee that you’ll find a job. You might find it easiest to write a brand spanking new cover letter for every application you submit, and you may enjoy spending your entire day scouring the web. In the end, the most important thing to take out of this is to work smarter, not harder. Even after sending out just a few applications, you’ll quickly realize how much time, energy, and hope goes into your submissions. By putting forth your best efforts into the positions that you are most passionate about, you’ll have a shot at your dream career.