Getting a Job After College: Top Advice from Recent Grads

Brandi Glass
5 min read
Graduation. A Success.

Congratulations on becoming a recent graduate! The world, as they say, is now your oyster as you embark on new beginnings and a future career.

However, getting a job after college is challenging and comes with multiple obstacles. If you’re ready to start but don’t know where to begin, we’re here to help demystify the process for the best possible outcome on your job-seeking journey.

Research the Job Market

No matter your domain, scoping out the job market and seeing what’s out there is the first step of your career journey. Look at entry-level and senior-level jobs and determine what the differences are. Plan how you want to get to the top position of your choice from day one. The sooner you have a plan or vision for the future, the likelier you’ll make the right decisions that propel you forward.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, either. You may find a job relatively quickly in your domain but not like your place of work. When that happens, it’s OK to move on and find something else. You may find a job that isn’t precisely what you thought you’d be in, but it still may lead you to future opportunities.

Learn Interview Etiquette

Once you apply for a job and get the “call” to interview, you have work to do. The interview doesn’t have to be a rigid and overwhelming experience. It’s a conversation that employers and applicants have to determine if both are a good fit for each other. Although you shouldn’t be scared going into an interview, you should stay mindful of a few points:

  • Never be late. If you must be late, call and alert the employer.
  • Do not speak over the interviewer and give hurried answers
  • Always respect the admins and everyone you encounter before speaking to the hiring manager
  • Maintain a well-groomed appearance regardless of the position
  • Maintain eye contact, nod, smile, and be aware of your body language
  • Do not lie or hide crucial information from the hiring manager
  • Use proper words and phrases when interviewed, and avoid slang and cursing
  • Listen carefully to the question and do not provide irrelevant answers
  • Never chew gum or eat anything during an interview

Although these might seem common sense, it’s easy to slip into old habits during an interview. Always treat all people interviewing you respectfully and never discriminate based on gender, religion, age, or race.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

You’re no longer studying, and the rules of the professional world now apply to you. You may not find a good job if you’re uncomfortable putting yourself out there and taking steps beyond your comfort zone. Sometimes, your fears limit your progress and potential, and you must examine what you can improve and work on before looking for a job.

Invest in Your Appearance

Appearances do matter when you’re looking for a job. No matter what you’re applying to, being well-groomed and polished makes all the difference during your interview. Taking pride in your outward appearance and investing in a few flattering and well-cut pieces helps you project a professional image to employers.

Disheveled applicants who don’t take the time to groom themselves have fewer advantages than those who do. If you’re in doubt, ask if there is a dress code for the interview in your email. The hiring manager will let you know the attire most appropriate for the meeting, and you won’t have to worry about an inappropriate appearance.

Get References from Professors

If you have no professional experience, having a few character references from your professors can help you land your first job. In most cases, your professors would be happy to provide these references, mainly if you performed well in college.

You don’t have to limit your connections to professors if you can’t get a good statement. Any community stakeholder who knows you and can attest to your positive qualities helps you when looking for a job.

Use Social Media

Nowadays, you don’t have to stick to job board websites to find a job. Many companies are harnessing the power of social media to post jobs and reach the best applicants. Some examples include LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Reddit. They don’t have to be the primary resources to find a job, but keeping them in mind puts you ahead of the curve.

You can also handcraft your own “brand” using social media and engage with others through networking. You may stumble upon an opportunity because of a conversation with company stakeholders who like how you think and your approach to people and problems.

Manage Your Expectations

Even if you have a perfect GPA, don’t expect to find a senior position when you have never worked before or don’t have enough experience. High-ranking jobs require both knowledge and experience. Some graduates mistakenly assume they can land a senior position just by having a degree. Still, they can’t find one once they start applying. After multiple applications, they become discouraged and think something is wrong with them.

It’s not wrong to aim for the stars, but only applying to non-beginner jobs puts you at a disadvantage. Plus, don’t forget that you’ll receive a promotion if you perform well in your entry-level position. Apply to a mix of jobs with varying levels of seniority for the best results. You may get multiple offers, allowing you to choose the most promising one instead of the only one.

Consider Internships

One way to get a job is to apply for an internship with potential employment. Nowadays, employers pay interns for their time, even if the stipend is not as much as a salary initially. As you progress and learn the ropes, the employer will extend a job offer after assessing your performance.

Even if you don’t get a job at the company you interned in, you can still use the experience you gained to your advantage. The more knowledgeable you are, the likelier you’ll find a good job soon after graduating.

Network Like Your Career Depends On It

Never underestimate the power of networking and how people can help you later when you’re no longer a fresh graduate. Many people focus on getting a job after college but not many focus on the people who can help them get those jobs.

Building professional connections through networking also helps you keep your ideas fresh and introduces you to different perspectives. That information comes in handy later, and so do those relationships.

Start With a Professional Resume

Nowadays, fresh graduates need a resume to apply to virtually every job. However, if you do it manually, you may have formatting issues that keep your resume hidden from hiring managers and recruiters. An Applicant Tracking System may not scan your resume appropriately, or your chosen format isn’t a good idea for the job.

We recommend using a template from Rocket Resume to avoid the most common resume mistakes. Not only are all CVs 100% readable by Applicant Tracking Systems, but you can also choose a customized format based on your field.

Rocket Resume takes the guesswork out of creating a resume when focusing on getting a job after college. The intuitive tools and the easy-to-use site lets you make the best format in minutes, without hassle or complicated options.

Want to get started on your new resume as a fresh college graduate?

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