How To Land Your First Job Out Of College
Many aspiring students consider the day after college graduation as the first day of the rest of their life. This is an exciting prospect!
As a recent college grad, the world is your oyster. Now is the time to put that hard-earned degree to work. So, how exactly do you land your first job out of college?
While there's no exact recipe for success, these tips can help set you on the right path to finding a job that's both lucrative and rewarding.
So, polish up that resume, and let's explore a few tips for finding your first professional job as a shiny, new college grad.
The early bird gets the worm. One of the best ways to land your first job out of college is to not wait until you're actually out of college!
Start your search long before the final semester ends. This puts you in a prime position for scooping up your dream job following graduation.
Another great reason to get a head start is that you'll have a leg up on the competition. Nearly 4 million college graduates enter the workforce at the exact same time. That's a lot of eager prospects.
To say the competition is fierce would be an understatement. The more prepared you are to hit the ground running, the better your chances of landing that first interview.
Most companies start recruiting new hires in the fall (October). Wait until the spring and you might miss out on some valuable opportunities.
Attend Career Fairs and Events
Job fairs don't get enough credit! They take the leg work out of finding jobs after college.
Imagine having access to your top job prospects all in one place -- that's what a career fair is. You have exclusive access to some of the best companies in your local area who are actively hiring.
This last piece of information is most important. Only companies actually interested in hiring recent grads attend job fairs and career events. That means you'll save wasted time pursuing job openings for more experienced candidates.
Recruiters who attend these events are well-versed in helping students and recent graduates navigate the job market. You'll gain access to invaluable insight and advice, even if you don't land the job.
Most college campuses also offer career centers and other resources for finding and applying to jobs in your area.
Narrow Your Scope
Eager students are told to reach for the stars and dream big. While these are important, relevant, pieces of advice, you also need to focus your efforts.
When searching for your first job out of college, narrow your focus to jobs that fit a few of these criteria:
- The job is related to your major
- The company is offering entry-level positions
- The requirements fit your skills and experience
Avoid blindly applying to jobs that don't suit you. Your first job out of college often acts as the stepping stone for future success.
Make sure it's related and relevant to your major and long-term goals. The "fake it 'til you make it" approach isn't the best idea when entering the job market for the first time.
Especially if you plan to use this job on your resume or your boss as a reference. You exit college and enter the workforce with a clean slate -- keep it that way by keeping your reputation intact.
Flex Your Networking Muscles
It's never too early to network. You don't need to be a big-wig CEO or even an employed adult to start making connections.
A recent LinkedIn survey showed that 85% of all jobs are landed through networking alone! Just bear in mind that networking doesn't mean contacting people and begging (or even asking) for a job.
Networking is about building relationships.
Start with the people closest to you. Reach out to coaches, former employers, school faculty, and other mentors. Ask them if they know anyone in your field of study that's willing to lend advice.
Never ask for a job upfront. Instead, show interest in learning more about the career path and industry. Ask for advice and insight into the work environment, requirements, and lesser-known aspects of the job.
Once you develop a positive rapport, you'll be in a better position to capitalize on a job opportunity if one arises.
Ultimately, though, your goal is to gather information and advice, not score a job. You never know when a connection or relationship you form now will work in your favor later on.
LinkedIn and other online platforms are also a great way to network with possible employers and like-minded professionals.
Present Yourself Well
There are several layers to this tip for scoring your first professional job. You need to present yourself well in all aspects of life. This includes in-person, on paper, and online.
Online Presence and Social Media Accounts
Let's start with the last element. You've probably heard that a company's online reputation can make or break them in business. The same goes for your personal online presence and reputation.
Gone are the days of showcasing your weekend adventures with friends on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to be taken seriously as a candidate, your social media pages need to reflect this.
Clean up your pictures, posts, and even friends list. Not sure if your social media feed needs a makeover?
Put it this way, if a prospective employer (or your grandmother) searched you on social media, would they be happy with what they saw?
The answer to this question speaks volumes about your online reputation.
Also, consider any websites or blogs you have. What is the content about and how is it presented?
Speaking of websites, creating a professional page or online portfolio are great ways to showcase your skills and experience.
Create a Thoughtful Resume
When it comes to presenting yourself and your skills, nothing does this quite like a traditional resume.
Even if you have an online portfolio or website, you should still have an updated and polished resume ready. Your resume should reflect your greatest achievements, strongest skills, as well as your personality.
Don't be afraid to tweak or edit your resume for each individual job opportunity. It's actually recommended you have several versions targeted toward specific jobs.
Whether it's a job interview or a career fair, you need to put your best foot forward. This starts with a well-groomed appearance.
A professional appearance shows employers that you take not only your job but your future seriously. Some offices actually have dress codes, so why not dress to impress from the start?
Putting effort and care into your physical appearance is also a good indicator of how you'll approach the position.
Prepare for Your First Job Out of College Now
It's never too early to start planning and preparing for the future. You've already decided on a major and dedicated time and money to get a quality education.
Now, the end is near. It's time to say goodbye to student life and hello to your future.
Every graduate encounters the same struggles when trying to land their first job out of college. Armed with these tips and knowledge, you'll put yourself in a better position for success.
Learn more about how the National Honor Society can help you achieve both your educational and professional dreams.