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What's next? Job Hunting Tips for College Grads

Updated on December 7, 2012

In today’s economy, job hunting is difficult for anyone out there looking for work. College grads are up against a lot of competition in the job market today. While they do have the advantage of being able to take a smaller salary than someone with more experience, often the experience they lack can be a greater disadvantage.

Job hunters in today’s market will find that they have to work a little harder and shine a little brighter than the competition to land the job. While some college grads understand the steps they need to gain a competitive edge, many others blend in with the others or fade into the background.

What can a college graduate do to land the job they want after school? In working with many students toward the end of their college career, processing their applications, and conducting their interviews, I have learned what to look for and what stands out to employers.

Consider an Internship

  • An internship often gets your foot in the door of the organization you wish to work for. Many employers would rather hire full-time workers from individuals they have trained themselves. Don’t underestimate the benefits an internship can bring to your career.
  • An internship helps you gain much needed experience. A college education, as valuable as it may be, often only fills students with head-knowledge. Real-life working experience is vital in today’s job market. An internship can help you put into practice the skills and abilities you learned in college.
  • An internship provides excellent networking opportunities. Even if there isn’t a job for you at the end of your internship, the contacts you make while you are there will be extremely beneficial. Making a good impression on your supervision, your co-workers, and your clients or customers, will give you great references when it’s time to job hunt again.

  • Research resume writing techniques. Make your resume stand out. Be sure there are no errors on it. Have a professional put it together. If you write your own resume, ask someone who knows how to pay attention to details look it over for you.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Know how they work together and how your strengths should be presented. Be careful when listing weaknesses on an application. Try to think of weaknesses that could be portrayed as strengths. I once saw an application where someone listed “lazy” as one of his weaknesses. Needless to say, his application was filed.
  • Be honest in your representation. While you want to cast yourself in the best possible light, don’t pad your resume. Even if lying could get you a job, if you can’t back up what your resume said, you won’t keep that job.
  • Do your research. Learn all you can about the organization to which you are applying. Find out what they do, how many people they hire, what the turn-over rate is. Become familiar with their vision and mission statement. Tailor your resume to fit the culture of organization.
  • Combat stereotypes. Right or wrong, the younger generation has a reputation for being lazy and disrespectful. You can fight this and other stereotypes by working hard to succeed. Don’t just expect a job to fall into your lap. Don’t develop a sense of entitlement. You don’t deserve this job until you work to earn the job.
  • Choose references wisely. List people that you know well and that you trust to honestly say great things about you. My favorite references are the ones who will go above and beyond to tell me how wonderful the applicant is. When I can feel the love and respect they have for that individual, then I know we have a quality applicant. References that never respond to requests, barely answer our questions, or seem hesitant to say positive things raise a lot of red flags.

Once your resume or application has wowed your potential employer, you need to make sure you are ready for the interview process. Here are some basic tips to stand out and make a great first impression.

  • Dress for success. Even though my organization is casual, I am constantly amazed at the college grads that come to their first interview in jeans or shorts. Dressing a step above the job you are seeking should be common knowledge.
  • Be prompt. Do not make your interviewer wait for you. Overestimate the time it will take to drive to the office. Map it out and know your route. As far as the interviewer is concerned, there is no excuse for being late.
  • Be courteous to everyone you meet. Don’t be condescending to the receptionist. You may be surprised to know that some employers will ask her what she thought or how you behaved in the lobby. Treat each person you meet on the way to the interview and on your way back to your car as a potential judge of your character.
  • Have a list of intelligent questions to ask. These questions should be based on the research you’ve already done. Don’t ask questions that can be answered by a casual look at their webpage.
  • Don’t be arrogant. While you may have learned a great deal in school, your knowledge pales in comparison to someone who’s had 30 years of experience in the field. Don’t assume that you have better ideas or know more than your interviewer.
  • Follow up after the interview. Send a professional thank you letter. Call back to check on your status. Take some initiative and demonstrate that you really want this position and that you’re willing to work hard to attain it.

There are many things that job hunters can do in today’s market. While these tips are not an exhaustive list, if you put them into practice, you will find that the hard work and effort will pay off in the long run.

If you found this Hub helpful, please be sure to vote it up. Let me know in the comment section below how you plan to maintain a competitive edge in today’s job market. Thanks for reading!

Be sure to read, "Now What? Tips for Success for New Employees" to learn how to keep and succeed in the job you land!


Submit a Comment

  • lisabeaman profile image

    lisabeaman 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks LeanMan! Feel free to pass it along :)

  • LeanMan profile image

    Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

    I hope that they have the sense to read your useful suggestions.

  • lisabeaman profile image

    lisabeaman 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks Wendy! I'm often amazed at how un-common some of these common sense suggestions are.

  • Wendy Krick profile image

    Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

    These are all great tips for job hunting.