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7 Tips For Finding A Job After College

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Finding a job after college can be a challenge, especially in this economy. It seems like the “perfect fit” candidate is all employers are looking for these days, which can make finding a job difficult for new grads with little to no real-world experience.

So, how can recent grads break into the workforce?

Tips For Finding A Job After College

Here are seven tips from our approved career experts on finding a job after college.

1. Showcase Your Skills

Debra Wheatman of Careers Done Write suggests listing leadership roles that you held in clubs or other activities that demonstrate your practical skills.

“You might also want to pursue an internship now,” she says. “This will enhance your resume, contribute to professional experience, and also help to build your network.”

2. Make Your Resume Job-Specific

“As a new college grad, it’s vital that your resume make the most of the experience you do have,” says Cheryl Simpson of Executive Resume Rescue.

Simpson suggests bolstering your resume by including more keywords, better descriptions of your achievements to date, and relevant project assignments. That way, you can emphasize your transferable skills to prospective employers.

“As long as the jobs you’re applying to are relevant to your major, chances are good that you’re qualified for entry-level jobs,” says Rachel Dotson of ZipRecruiter. “The most likely culprit, then, is that you’re having a hard time communicating how your skills and experience make you qualified for a given position.”

Dotson suggests going through your resume and cover letter and ask yourself, line by line, whether each point supports the requirements for a job. You can also get industry-specific advice for your application materials at your campus career center and, better yet, from former internship advisors and those currently in your desired field.

Lisa Adams of Fresh Air Careers suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • How are you presenting yourself on your resume and LinkedIn profile?
  • Are you not showing your value and differentiators?
  • What kind of work experience have you obtained during your college years?

3. Modify Your Job Search

“A by-product of the bad economy is a serious bias for work experience and the ‘perfect fit,'” says Dorothy Tannahill-Moran of Next Chapter New Life. “This doesn’t mean the time and work you put into your degree was a waste.  It means it’s not enough.”

In this case, she suggests modifying your job search by looking into staffing agencies, internships, and volunteer positions as a means of getting some of the work experience you need.

“Employers right now are risk adverse,” Tannahill-Moran says. “They only want to hire people they know have work ethics (which is something they don’t want to train someone in) and have developed the skills to do the work (to reduce cost associated with training).”

4. Look Somewhere New

“Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place,” says Kathy Ver Eecke of Working For Wonka.

The stats are clear; most new jobs are found with startups. Almost 85 percent of startups say they’ll hire in the next 12 months; close to ten percent will hire more than ten employees!

“The good news for recent grads is that startups hire for mindset over skill set every time,” she says. “You’ll get the job faster armed with passion and enthusiasm for the product over having a resume filled with applicable experience. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s just the way startups roll.”

She suggests taking the following steps:

  • Find a fast-growing new company with a product or service you think is great
  • Tell the Founder of the company how much you love it
  • Offer your time for free (if you can’t get a paid position)
  • Make yourself indispensable

“At a startup, every set of hands, every available brain gets a good workout,” she says. “You’d be surprised what they’ll let you do. If ultimately they can’t hire you, you’ll walk away with the resume boost you were looking for.”

5. Go For Unpaid Internships

“Being unpaid doesn’t mean it’s not valid work experience,” says Jenny Yerrick Martin of Your Industry Insider. “And if you don’t have unpaid work on your resume and can’t get hired, offer to work unpaid for entrepreneurs or small businesses in your field and/or volunteer at events for your industry. That adds experience to your resume and allows you to network and prove yourself to people who could hire you.”

6. Never Stop Learning

“Don’t let graduation be the end of your learning,” says Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR. “Start reading books, industry blogs and magazines, and so on to keep yourself up to date on the latest and greatest in your field.”

Eubanks suggests finding a local nonprofit and volunteer your time in a way that you can add the experience to your resume.

“If you only walk away with one thing, let it be this: you are the only one who can change this,” he says. “Hoping that a hiring manager will lower the bar or ‘just give you a chance’ isn’t the answer; making yourself a more knowledgeable and attractive candidate is the only thing you can count on.”

7. Don’t Give Up

“Network, network, network, and keep looking,” says career coach Arleen Bradley. “Apply for internships in your field and particularly in companies where you want to work. Volunteering your time doing what you want to do for a career equals experience.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ariella Coombs

Ariella is the Content Manager for CAREEREALISM. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.

14 comments

  1. Finding internships can be a bit difficult. I am a senior this year in college, and I think with my major, it won’t be hard for me to get a job.

  2. These are good tips particularly #4 from Working for Wonka. Find a company you want to work for and do the research. You will get high marks if you speak to someone at the top and tell them how much you like and respect the company. If it is a small growing company so much the better as there will be fewer layers to get to the top. If they offer you a role and it is not the one you want, take it anyways! This gets you in and allows you to look around.

    #5 about internships is getting a lot of bad press lately because people are being taken advantage of– doing administrative work that they should be paid for or work that other employees are being paid for. It is not enough for an employer to tell someone they are getting great work experience. They may well be but time is money and after three months if you decide to go this route and they keep you on, there should be legislation to make employers to at least commit to minimum wage. If they tell you that they will find someone else, report them to Employment Standards programs in your city or country. You probably won’t end up staying but at least you will pave the way for others NOT to be taken advantage of.

  3. Guyz, this ain’t a debate on what companys ought to do for interns. Its about what you ought to do the company to get a job. Great Tips. Thanks

  4. This very interesting to appreciate. These tips are worth encouraging to open the minds of undergraduates relative to job seeking after graduation.It is true that know one cares how much you know until one knows how much you care. Very grateful.

  5. This article has lots of tips for volunteer positions or internships (which pay very little or not at all). I’m surprised no one has thought of how you are going to pay rent and buy food while working in a job that doesn’t pay you. Obviously, those are good ways to get experience, but some of us don’t have the luxury to not get paid for 6 months to a year.

    • I’m sorry but I completely disagree with #5. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally for working hard to getting into a certain company, and to prove if you are indeed a good asset or not to the team. A company should at least pay something for the interns time due to them benefiting off of their skills and talents. Plus interns need to be paid in general just to live. Bottom line, most interns cannot afford to work for free.

  6. I’ve been seeing unpaid internships a lot lately. Just a heads-up: unpaid internships are illegal. A company cannot NOT pay an individual if they are doing work for them. If the “intern” is doing work that a paid employee would usually do or has done in the past, this is not legal. Companies offering unpaid internships can get into serious trouble. A possible exception however, would be if the individual is simply observing or shadowing at an organization, that would be acceptable as an unpaid internship, although this is rare. Certainly some grey area here…

  7. Hi. I come from Vietnam. I agree with Marina, this is helpful. I’m responsible in marketing executive. I learned more and more when I worked in there but I think every job is temporary so I will choose a new job which have a better condition.

  8. Hi! I am redwan.I am from Bangladesh. Iam a student of Hsc 2nd year.My final exam is close at hand. So pray for me and give me tips to finding the path of success.

    Its very useful and valuable tips i think.

    One who want to get a good job i think its his solution.

    Thank you so much.

  9. Hi, my name is Elen, I´m Brazilian. I´ve graduated for 4 years in Marketing and Sales and I´ve never gotten a job in the field I´ve graduated. Today I work as executive secretary in a university. I´ve searched for long time a job as marketing analyst but I didn´t find. The biggest problem for new graduates is the lack of experience. So, I´ve only found job in the field that I already had experience. and for talk the truth, I think that was better soon, because today I like very much than I do

  10. These are all great tips for finding a job after college! Just because you’ve turned the tassel on your graduation cap doesn’t mean it’s time to stop learning. You can always learn more industry-specific skills and gain experience through volunteering. You should also make sure you stand you in your resume by keeping it tailored. You might even consider going a bit outside the box. For instance, a video resume can be a great way to show off your communication skills and passion for the job. Look at the job hunt like you would acing a hard test, and do your homework so you can get your dream job!

  11. Marina Gomez Rabino

    Hi, my name is Marina, I´m from Uruguay. I think this article is very helpfull. This is my last year at college and I very nervous about the future… continue doing something like that.

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