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Tips for Recent College Graduates: Getting a Job

Updated on June 28, 2013

For most recent college graduates finding a job can be a little overwhelming. Typically, college graduates are "newbies" in the career world, which means that they will possibly be competing with people who have years of experience. If you were an employer looking for someone to hire, would you choose someone with no experience, or someone with 10 plus years of experience working in the field? When you're up against these odds, it can seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. For college graduates, there seems to be a vicious cycle in looks something like this:

While there are some companies and agencies that actively recruit college graduates, they tend to be few and far between and the competition is just as difficult.

Whether you graduated with a Bachelor's Degree or a Master's Degree, there are ways to improve your chances of entering the career field of your choosing.

Before you graduate...

You should start thinking about securing a career before you even graduate. Actually, your main goal from the time you enter your freshman year should be working towards a secure career upon graduation. Most college graduates are experiencing freedom and living on their own for the first time, so they may lose sight of the reason why they entered college in the first place. Keep in mind that freshman year has just as much influence on your future as your senior year.

College students should take advantage of college clubs and organizations offered on campus. Most colleges offer a wide variety of clubs and organizations ranging from leadership organizations to singing and dance clubs. Think back to high of the main things that high school students are concerned with is being active in school organizations so that they can put these extracurricular activities on their college applications, right? Well, apply that same rule to college. Participating in these extracurricular activities will enable you to build a better resume when you start your career search. They will also demonstrate your leadership and teamwork skills, which are two qualities that most employers look for in potential candidates.

How to get an internship...

Apply for Internships

Another thing that you can do to improve your chances of finding a job upon graduation is to complete internships related to the field that you want to work in. For college students, internships are usually unpaid. While there may not be any pay for the time you put into the internship, when you graduate and start your job search the experience you gained while completing the internship will pay off big time.

Internship positions can be competitive as well. For help finding internships that would be a good match for you, talk to your college advisor, career development center, or academic department. They usually keep a list of local places that offer internships as well as the application processes for each.



Volunteering is another great way to gain professional experience. While volunteering is unpaid, it gives you an opportunity to develop a variety of skills and abilities while also building up your resume. Volunteering is also a rewarding opportunity on a personal level because you are able to volunteer your time to help others in need without expecting anything in return.

Many companies have started to add a "volunteer experience" section to their applications. This just goes to show how important volunteer experience can be when it comes to searching for a career.

Even if you can't necessarily find a volunteer opportunity that is related to your ideal career field it is still valuable experience that will help you gain a new perspective as well as valuable skills and abilities.

So, how do you find volunteer opportunities in your community? Well, most communities have food pantries, homeless shelters, and Red Cross centers that are always in need of volunteers to help serve members of the community. Volunteer Match is an amazing website that will help match you with potential volunteer opportunities within your community. They provide you with detailed information about the volunteer opportunity as well as contact information.


Networking is a great way to discover potential job opportunities that may be available to you. Networking also allows you to make valuable contacts which can lead to job leads. Volunteering and internships are both great ways to network. Just by interning or volunteering at a company or organization you can make valuable friendships which can be helpful in your future job search.

There are many professional networking organizations that specialize in a particular field. For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) is an association for those interested in the psychology field. Even high school students are given the opportunity to become part of the APA. By becoming a member of this specialized networking community you can gain up-to-date information and the latest news within the field as well as form valuable relationships with people who work in the field who can act as mentors as you begin your own career in the field.

Create a Linked In Online Professional Profile

Linked In is an online professional networking community that allows you to create a personalized professional profile. Internet and social media have become a staple in society, so it's not surprising that when you apply for a job or submit a resume, the first thing that a potential employer may do is look you up online. They may look into your Facebook page, any blogs you may have, as well as any other online presence you might have. Linked In is a great way to create a professional online presence for employers who seek to gain more information about you by looking online. Linked In allows you to create a profile using your employment history, general experience (volunteer, internship etc.), educational background, and any associations or organizations that you are a part of.

Create a Professional Resume

Nearly all potential employers are going to want you to submit a resume. This is how they learn about your professional, educational, and extracurricular experience. Most of the time your resume will be the very first contact that you make with a potential employer, which means that you are allowing your resume to be your first impression. If your resume is not professional or thorough, you are not going to make a good first impression. You want your resume to set you apart from other potential candidates, so it is extremely important to have a good resume on hand at all times.

A resume should include the following:

  • Professional work experience
  • Volunteer experience (if any)
  • Internships
  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Certifications or credentials
  • Skills/Abilities

To learn more about creating a resume that will stand out, check out They also have sample resumes that you can view as well as valuable information on creating a cover letter to accompany your resume.

Interview Tips

The Interviewing Process

So, you got called in for an interview? Congratulations, you've made it over the first hurdle. However, you are still far from landing the job at this point. The interview is the single most important factor when it comes to landing the job or getting that dreaded letter or phone call stating "we have gone with another candidate."

The job interview is the employers way of getting to know you as an individual. They want to know how you present yourself, how you communicate, what your motives are for seeking the job, and so on. You may have really impressed the employer on paper, but the interview is your chance to show the employer the real you. Once the interview process has begun, the employer has narrowed down the list of potential candidates to a few promising candidates. Your goal during the interview is to reassure the employer that you are the right person for the job. It also gives you a chance to expand on things that may not be part of your application or resume.

Preparing for an interview:

  • Dress professionally (applies to ANY job)
  • Arrive early (15 minutes is a good goal)
  • Do your homework on the company (what is their mission statement?)
  • Prepare any questions you might have
  • Bring a resume (you may want to refer back to it at some point)
  • Get directions ahead of time (many people are late for interviews because they get lost or don't know where to park when they arrive, so have a plan)
  • Try to relax!

The most important thing to remember when you are searching for a job is to not give up. You may have one interview and land the job, or it may take one hundred interviews to land a job. No matter what the case you need to keep at it! It may be daunting to attend interview after interview, but think of each interview as a learning experience. Each interview that you go to is allowing you to practice and refine your interviewing skills, so be positive and stay motivated!


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    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      I have experienced this dilemma myself so I can relate to recent graduates who are experiencing the same issue. Luckily in my Master's program I will be doing practicum and internships to help me gain professional experience in the field, but not all degrees give students the opportunity to gain this type of experience while completing their degree. Thanks for the comment and the share!

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      6 years ago from India

      I have seen most of our graduates facing this problem. A well paid good job always asks for minimum 2-3 years of experience.

      You have some good pints as advice to freshers

      Voted up and shared


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