Recent college graduates are not as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they once were. Instead of buying crisp suits and filling out resumes, these former students are dragging their feet back into Mom and Dad’s house with a blank stare and a ton of debt because, “Really, what’s the point?” Students are finding ways of avoiding the job search after college by applying for graduate school or building a business from home. Sadly, not every graduate can go back to school or build their own business. For those who can’t, the post-collegiate job search is proving to be much more difficult than it was for their parents. Unemployment rates and crippling student loan debt have students throwing in the towel before they even finish their studies in college. Even students who find a job averaging $30,000 a year are finding it close to impossible to pay off their loans, let alone afford a monthly rent and weekly groceries. So how do you find the right job? It all depends on how badly you want it and how hard you’re willing to work for it. In the meantime, here are some helpful hints for serious students wanting to find the right job after college:
Use the Internet Sparingly. Use Your Feet Frequently.
For the millennial generation, the Internet is the go-to method of job hunting. Some students have never filled out a paper application, participated in a face-to-face interview, or actively searched for jobs outside of their own home. This is where a large number of students go wrong in their job hunting. While social networking and posting a resume to a job site like careerbuilder.com is a good start, the Internet will not ultimately find your job for you. Even active searching on these sites can produce little results. Internet advertisements for jobs often provide vague descriptions of the job and very little information about who has posted the job. Not only are the job descriptions vague, every other graduate has the same idea to search online for jobs in their area. Now this job has one thousand people applying for it on a daily basis. To the employer, you’re just one in one thousand. Your odds in snagging this job are beyond dismal.
One of the most effective ways a student can look for a job is physically getting out there and searching. Buy a few newspaper subscriptions and look in the help wanted section (often these are not listed online). Use the Internet to find companies or businesses that you see a potential future with and physically visit the company to find more information. Often a simple, “Hi, my name is _____ and I was curious about possible open positions in this company” is a way of literally getting your foot in the door.
Pro-Tip: Even when inquiring about a job, you should be dressed to impress. Many employers will size you up on the spot before you have even filled out an application.
Use Your Connections
Students often feel a sense of obligation to find a job on their own without any outside help. They’re adults now and should be able to do something as simple as finding a job right? Wrong. Maybe you remember the father of an old friend from high school who worked at that big engineering company. Or maybe one of your mother’s yoga buddies works in that state office downtown. Don’t be afraid to ask people you know for help or information. If these people can get you a job simply because they have the power to do so, great! Even if they can’t get you a job, they can provide you with countless bits of knowledge about how the company works and what is expected from potential employees.
When students graduate, they have expectations for the type of job they will ultimately acquire. “I have a degree, therefore I should be able to find a job that starts me at $60,000 a year with full benefits and paid vacation.” It doesn’t work like that for a majority of students. Expectations need to be realistic. Some graduates will take whatever they can get to start paying off student loans. Others have the luxury of time to search for the right kind of job. Regardless of which type of graduate you are, it is far more realistic to take a job below your expectations and work your way up than to expect an automatic dream job simply because they now have a degree. Entry-level positions are ideal for college graduates. Internships are also an excellent plan-ahead method for current students. While internships can be quite competitive, they’re worth their weight in gold for the college gradate; a job in their field with pre-graduate experience.
Work Tirelessly on Your Resume
Even if you’re applying for a job “flipping burgers” (as the old folk would say), bring a resume. A resume shows professionalism, even if it’s not an incredibly impressive resume. An employer who only requires a basic application will certainly give more face time to your resume than the application. Why? Your resume gives the employer an idea of your work ethic. Including achievements in past jobs will show your commitment to the job. Incorporating duties from past jobs will show your ability to multi-task or meet deadlines. Even if you have no prior work experience, there are ways of making your resume impressive with community service. There are plenty of things you can do to make your resume appealing and effective. There are plenty of free online resume hosting sites that offer tips on bulking up your resume and provide a place to show it off!
Last But Not Least: Keep a Positive Attitude
Unfortunately, the media is already defeating students before they finish college. The news, friends who have graduated, and even professors are filling students minds with the idea that regardless of their degree, they won’t be finding a job anytime soon in this economy. Graduates need to remember that while it is much more difficult to find a job than it was maybe twenty or thirty years ago, they still have an upper hand on those without a degree. In 2009 alone, college grads were facing roughly 5% unemployment rates while those with less than a high school diploma faced close to 16% according to mybudget360.com. While both percentiles are high, the difference between them is staggering. Finding a job is a complex and time-consuming effort, regardless of the current state of the economy. Take pride in who you are and what you have to offer. Confidence is an invaluable trait to possess when it comes to finding a job. People will notice; employers will notice; even you will notice when that first interview finally comes around.
Now get out there and start hunting, graduates!