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Blog>Guides>How to Find Your First Job Out of College

How to Find Your First Job Out of College

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In the turbulence that is post-graduation, students are quickly learning that a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job — even in the major you’ve spent the last four years studying. While the country’s unemployment rate has been steadily declining over the past three years, the macroeconomic environment has led industries like tech to conduct widespread layoffs, creating shaky ground for college grads looking to enter the workforce. But don’t hit that panic button just yet. Here are seven steps that will help you land that first job.

1. Find a Paid Internship

Finding a paid internship may seem counterproductive to finding a full-time gig, but 70% of all interns were offered a job, often at the company they interned for. The bad news is finding a paid internship position may still be difficult, as nearly 40% of internships in the United States are still unpaid.

Still, paid or unpaid, an internship is a great way to boost your resume, especially if that internship is in your desired career field. This advice isn’t only for students still in school. On average, it takes college grads three to six months to find employment, so if you can afford to, why not spend those six months gaining experience in an internship? While building your case as to why that company should hire you full-time, you’ll also be learning valuable lessons and tricks to the trade that can be used wherever you decide to apply next.

2. Network, Network, Network

We’ve all heard it before, and for some of us, it’s followed by a full-on existential crisis. However, it’s not as difficult as it seems — but it is important. One study found that 80% of professionals deem networking to be a significant part of the job hunt. However, you don’t have to go to a fancy cocktail party. Networking begins in your immediate professional and social circles. Coming out of school, that’s going to be your professors, school administrators, classmates, and any community members you’ve come into contact with during your tenure in student organizations. Just as you might ask a professor or mentor for a letter of recommendation, they can point you in the direction of job vacancies through their own network.

Delegates networking during conference lunch break.

Keep in mind that networking isn’t flat-out asking for a job. Follow up with these people every so often with a simple email checking in, or offer to grab coffee or lunch with them. The key to getting plugged into a job is a genuine connection.

3. Show Some School Spirit

If you hate the university you’ve attended, this may be the time to stretch the truth. Branching off the previous section, alumni connections are some of the best ways to network. Professionals who were once in your shoes are often willing to at least speak with you. Being a fellow alumnus immediately establishes a connection and serves as a great conversation starter.

Where to find alumni? Ask your university’s department of student life to retrieve a list of alumni, or better yet, to find information on the next alumni event that’s taking place. Virtually every school has an alumni association that puts on social gatherings and fundraisers. Even easier than that, look up Facebook webpages. Alumni often make online groups specifically for the purpose of networking and keeping folks up to date on the school’s latest happenings. Wherever you find them, say hello!

4. Use Your School’s Career Services

This is mostly for the seniors approaching graduation, in addition to the juniors and sophomores who are anxious to get a head start. Most universities have career centers designed to ease students into the working world. Use them! The staff is knowledgeable about what employers are looking for in a recent graduate and frame their programming accordingly.

Three people with laptop and tablet sitting on some steps.

Career service centers offer workshops on how to write effective resumes and cover letters, conduct mock interviews, as well as offer job listings toward the end of the year. Every detail counts, from the right or wrong action verb on a resume to your twitching finger during an interview. Accept constructive feedback in order to present the best version of yourself.

5. Build a Personal Website

By having your own domain, you show employers your professionalism and that you’re self-motivated. According to Forbes, 80% of job seekers wish to have a personal website, but only 7% of them actually do. A website is a great way to stand out. However, it’s not enough to just have a website. You need one that accurately reflects your brand. Are you a journalist? Upload your writing samples. Graphic Designer? Show your graphic art. A tech genius specializing in audio engineering? Let the world hear the music or audio-visuals you’ve left an imprint on.

While your samples are most important, here are other things that your website should include:

  • A brief bio consisting of ideally two to three sentences explaining your background and passion for what you do
  • Contact information that lists your email and phone number
  • An updated resume
  • A headshot

Extra tip: don’t forget to proofread. An extra set of eyes can make a huge difference!

6. Do Extensive Research

With so many ways to search for a job these days, the number of vacancies can be overwhelming. Start with using credible job searching websites like Joblist. Not only does our site help you find employment opportunities in your area, but we also have numerous blog posts that address your biggest questions and concerns about the job search.

Focused young woman wearing headphones using laptop in cafe.

To take it a step further, tailor your job search to make it more manageable. Organize your searches into “dream entry-level jobs,” “jobs I qualify for,” and “jobs I can easily get.” Be honest with yourself when contemplating what jobs you’re willing to settle for and which ones are a bit of a reach. In either case, they should align with your interests and have a working environment you’d feel comfortable in. Joblist offers useful advice from applying to jobs with low stress for those with mental health issues to recommendations for non-corporate jobs for those looking for something to fit their style.

When you find a job you like, be sure to do your homework, which is more than reviewing the job responsibilities and requirements. Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, work they’ve done in the past, and key members of the company. If you land an interview, be sure to do some quick research on the interviewer. A quick online search can give you insight into their personality and put you one step ahead of the competition. While you’re at it, be sure to clean up your social media pages because they’ll be searching your name, too.

7. Be Open to Detours

Consider “lesser” jobs that don’t fit your major. Chances are, something else will eventually come along. In the meantime, explore jobs that align with your hobbies and passions. Love the piano? Offer music lessons. Love arts and crafts? Find community centers working with children. Just be sure to update your resume and keep actively looking for your next gig.

Road to Employment

Securing a job isn’t easy for anyone, let alone someone just getting out of school, but you’re more than capable. By using these seven steps, landing your first job out of college won’t be such a bumpy ride.

Whether you're in search of an internship or want to jump straight into the workforce, Joblist can help you find exactly what you need.

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