If you’ve just navigated the trying task of obtaining a college degree, then you might think that the least the world can do is provide you with a good job. Alas, it doesn’t quite work that way: there’s around 10% of graduates who are unemployed, and closer to 20% of graduates who unemployed; that is, they have a job, but it’s not one that required a college degree. Then there’s the matter of finding the job that’s right for you. If you look hard enough, you can gain employment: the tricky part comes when you try to get a job you really want. Below, we offer fifteen essential tips for landing your dream job after college. Do these, add a bit of grit, determination, and patience, and you’ll be on your way to getting the job of your dreams.
Look in the Right Places
First thing’s first: you need to be looking in the right places. Graduate jobs aren’t just lumped up with the other thousands of jobs listed on the usual job sites. Even if they are, you’ll have to wade through too many posts that are aimed at people of all abilities before you can find them. It’s recommended that you keep an eye on Indeed and CareerBuilder, but the bulk of your energy should be spent combing through those graduate websites, such as NACElink and Experience.com.
And Don’t Just Look: Investigate
While we’re talking about looking for jobs, there’s an industry secret that we think you should know: the vast majority of positions aren’t officially advertised. In fact, it’s possible that only around 20% of jobs actually make it to websites; the rest are filled through word of mouth, referrals, and people taking a chance and offering their services. If there’s a company you really want to work for, look beyond the ‘available positions’ section of their website; get in touch directly. They might just have a position available that nobody else knows about.
Foot in the Door
Not everybody thinks that taking an internship is a good idea, but if you’re struggling to find a job to your choosing, then it offers you an opportunity to get your foot in the door, gain experience, and make yourself more employable. Competition for internships at the biggest companies can be fierce, so go after them with the same determination as you would a real job. If you excel during your internship, you might just be offered a job at the end – some 70% of big companies offered their interns a position. Aside from potentially securing you a job, an internship also allows you to try out an industry or position before you commit to it full-time.
Remember above, when we said that the vast majority of jobs aren’t listed on official job boards? It might be your networking abilities that uncover these secret positions. Alas, many people have a shaky understanding of what exactly networking involves. It’s not about schmoozing up to someone at a corporate event and handing over your business card as you make the “call me” gesture. Why would they call? Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships. If you find someone that you would like to connect with, make yourself useful to them in one way or another. You’ll have established a connection that one day might open up paths that lead to a job.
You don’t always have to wait for a company to give you a chance to shine. You can help yourself, providing your career choice lends itself well to individual endeavors. For example, let’s say you want to be a social media executive. Well, it takes nothing but a social media account to start getting experience in that field. By the time you come to applying for jobs, you’ll have something to show that says you are serious about entering that area. It’s like writing: if you want to be a journalist, don’t wait for the New York Times to call you (they won’t); just begin writing on your own blog!
Leverage Your College Relationships
If the industry you want to work in is directly related to your college degree, then you probably already have plenty of contacts to help you find a job in that field. Your college professors – and to a lesser degree, your classmates – are already working in that industry, so make the most of any connections, opportunities, or ideas they have. If you’re studying biology and want to become a scientist, then speak to your professors: they might know of an academic at another institution who is working on a problem that you have shown an interest in. It’s these types of connections you have to exhaust, especially if you want to work in a competitive field.
Hire a Resume Coach
You’ll be well trained in the important things you need to get a job, but you’ll be sorely lacking in the ‘how to get a job’ department. That’s a skill set all on its own. Because you have little experience, you need to make the skills that employers are looking for jumps off your resume page. Companies want people who can work as part of a team, think critically, and work hard. You’ll have all these skills in your locker, but showcasing them to a potential employer might be a challenge. Work with a resume coach, either online or through your college, to ensure you’re listing all your skills on your resume.
Top Up Your Education
It might be that your college degree, while a solid base, is not enough on its own to get you the job you want. If this is the case, then top up your degree by completing a postgraduate study online course and give yourself an edge over your fellow graduates. Postgraduate education is more precise than an undergraduate degree and is an excellent way to show employers that you have a greater understanding of the skills needed for a role. It can also be a way to “sidestep” your education: if you have a degree in Ancient Studies but want to enter the marketing industry, you’ll be able to use the skills you acquired during your degree to obtain a postgraduate qualification in marketing, for example.
Know When To Say No
An important step in landing your dream job is knowing when to say no to other offers. If you’re offered a job but it doesn’t feel right, or you don’t think it’ll lead anyway, then reject it, if you can afford to do so. Finding the job that’s right for you is as much about saying no to opportunities as it is to saying yes! You should try your best to reject those feelings of panic that can set in when you’re beginning to doubt your ability to get a job. Settling for a job that doesn’t feel right will not lead to your dream job.
Quality, Not Quantity
And talking of panicking: make sure you’re applying to the kind of jobs that you actually want. It’s all too easy to fire off application after application, but it’s a flawed approach. You won’t be sending out fifty applications: you’ll be sending out fifty half applications. The best jobs require concentration and effort. Only apply for jobs that you truly want, and make sure you’re spending hours getting it just right.
Step Outside the Comfort Zone
You might dream of ultimately working for Google, but it’s unlikely that you’ll bag one of their highly competitive graduate jobs. Instead, plot a longer path, one that will take you on an exciting career path and may one day result in you landing your dream position. Also, be willing to step outside of your comfort zone if a good opportunity presents itself. You’ll be better served by joining a smaller company located in a smaller city and working your way up, rather than trying to find a job in your hometown or going straight for the best paying, most glamorous jobs.
Play Around With Jobs
Conventional wisdom has it that when you find a job you like, in a company you enjoy for you, that you should stick in that position. But there’s a big difference between a job you like a job you love. There’s a school of thought that says that job hopping is the version of climbing the ladder. You can spend six months at one company, excel, learn everything you can, and then jump ship to a slightly different role at another company, repeating the same process. In a few years, you’ll have an enviable resume. The only thing that will be lacking will be ‘commitment,’ but then, the biggest companies will know once you get a job with them, there’s nowhere higher to climb.
The job market is the most competitive it’s ever been, but there are also more resources than ever before to help you along the way, too. Take your time, be patient, and you’ll eventually find yourself in the job of your dreams. Best of luck!