My Advice for the New College Graduate: How to Land a Job and Survive After College
My Post-College Realization
So you have invested the last two, four...dare I say six years to college and now you have or will be graduating and feel lost at the thought of what to do next? Graduating from college can be an exciting yet dreaded event that makes you face the reality that you have to start paying back your loans, while looking for a job in a competitive market.
I too shuddered at the thought and worry of graduating with my Bachelor's Degree. What would I do after I finished my internship and graduated? Here is my story...Just recently, I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Social Work and minor in Psychology. My last months of college was spent fulfilling my internship hours at a crisis call center (30 hours per week). And I had generated a nice amount of student loans (let's say under $10,000). The prospect of graduating was exciting yet my heart fluttered when I realized that I only have a limited amount of time to meet Graduate School Applications and Deadlines, not to mention job searches and student loan payments. I became overwhelmed with theses thoughts and began preparing for what happened next.
Once I graduated, I made some major mistakes which I really hope someone will learn from. I also made some great decisions which lead me to acquire three jobs as a social worker! So what did I learn along the way?
How I Landed 3 Jobs After College
1) Write a fantastic resume
- When I was at my internship we would have weekly meetings that involved all the interns and supervisors. Each week we would discuss different topics usually related to job searching after college. One thing that set me apart from some of the other interns was the fact that I was continually offered interviews while I was still in college. Here is some advice:
- Keep your resume SHORT, mine was 2 pages
- Do not use wordy, extra information
- Make sure when you print it, there aren't headings that start on one page and continue to the next, you want it to flow. You don't want the reader to have to keep flipping back and forth between pages to see where you worked on one page and what you did there on the other.
- Really pull your greatest strengths, you have them trust me! Dig deep! Did you make the deans list one year? Did you take any classes that weren't required such as Coursera (A free database of classes you can take online, yes, free! Just for the sake of learning)
- Do you have any strengths that can really set you apart from the rest? For example, on my resume which is related to Social Work, I wrote under my Proficiencies that I am the author of an online blog that has generated over 100,000 views. They may not need that in Social Work but it does show the person that I have other interests that illustrate extra skills such as writing and sharing information with others
- Have two separate resumes. Face it, you have been in college for the last six years, you have probably had jobs that are very old and unrelated to your field. If your resume is over three pages, I would suggest cutting some of the older jobs out. You can always keep them on file on your alternate resume, I just recommend making a solid resume where you can focus on your recent, relate-able endeavors
2) Take every interview you can get related to your field, if it's not in your desired location and you are offered an interview, at least go to the interview
- Once I had my resume ready and had contacted many different social work agencies, I started to get requests for interviews. Here is a warning: You will most likely not get the job you want! I remember my first interview after college. It was a phone interview for a case manager position at a non-profit agency. I scheduled the interview, thought I did fantastic then was instantly told that I didn't have enough experience although they were very interested.
- Interviews are learning experiences! Even though I did not get the job for my first interview, it was a stepping stone for the next. What I learned from this experience was A) Do not get your hopes up B) What strengths I have that were most interesting to the interviewer C) Where I need to improve and D) What to expect on my next interview
Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day! You will most likely not get the job on your first try, but interviews offer you the chance to ask questions, get advice and give you a feel for what an interview in your specified field is like. It is okay to use an interview for your benefit, even if you have no intentions of taking the job. Just don't tell them that in the interview of course! :P
3) Map out your job search
- How did I get so many interviews? I made a list of all the agencies in my area, regardless of whether they were hiring or not. I knew that many of my classmates were scouring Monster, Indeed and Craiglist for jobs, so I decided not to bother with them.
- Make a list of all the agencies in your area that have employees with your degree working for them. On your list of agencies, go to the career section and apply. If they do not have any positions in the career section available, try to find a contact person of the agency. Write an e-mail to the person in charge of hiring, attach your resume and express your interest to find out more about the company. Many of the companies keep resumes on file for those that have applied yet didn't get the job because there were no openings. What this means is that they will likely not advertise if they have open positions and they will most likely pull from the stack of resumes they already have. So, if you want to boost your chances, leave resumes with the employer and see what happens! You can always send them another e-mail in a few months to show that you are still interested in a position and if they are hiring. Don't forget, if you do land an interview, write the employer a thank you note, hand write it to really add a personal touch.
4) Have confidence in yourself
- You will be nervous during your interview, but be yourself, be honest and know that you are a new graduate that has many strengths. There are some benefits of being a recent graduate with limited experience in the field, and employers recognize this! Use your confidence to remind the interviewer that although you may lack experience, you do not have bad habits that many in the field may have. You are a fresh face to the field which means you are passionate and have new creative ideas which others may have overlooked.
- There are pro's and con's of being in the field for many years. Yes you will have the experience however, more than likely that person is burnt out and is resistant to new changes. Companies want to hire someone that adapts easily to change. New graduates appeal to employers because they are pliable and can be molded into their ideal worker. So, in short, be confident in your appeal!