College Grads! Four Things You Should Know Before Job Hunting

By Adolfo Hatcher

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No matter how many gloomy rumors you might have heard about job hunting after college, the whole experience doesn’t have to be a negative one. Check out this article for a list of things you should understand before starting to look for a job.

Job hunting right after you graduate college can be intimidating. You’ve heard about how competitive the job market is, you’re not sure about what you’d like to do, and you don’t have an impressive transcript to dazzle potential employers with. There’s still hope. If you’re diligent and open to new possibilities, you too can land a decent job that will help you build your skills further and gain some valuable work experience. 

The trick is to keep a positive attitude and never say no to opportunities that might come your way. You may encounter a few bumps along the way, sure, but carving your own career path isn’t easy; and the start is often the most difficult part of the whole process.

As long as you don’t expect to land your dream gig right after graduation and you’re proactive when it comes to your job hunt, you’re on the right track to securing a spot in the workforce. Here are a few things you should know in order to be properly prepared for what’s about to come.

The Job Market Generally Sucks. But Not Necessarily for You

There are no jobs out there. College grads move back home because they’re unable to find any work. The job market is more competitive than ever. You’ve heard all these statements before, but you should pay little attention to them. The truth is, that there are big, respected employers offering opportunities all over the U.S. Just because millions of 20-somethings can't find full-time work, doesn’t mean that you have to become one of them— and starting off your job hunt with a negative outlook will get you nowhere.

Don’t apply solely for jobs with big companies – startups can actually be great work environments, especially for young adults looking to pursue their passion and contribute to building something great. On the same note, don’t limit yourself to applying for jobs everyone in your former class applies to, on generic job boards like Monster.com. Look for job boards specific to your niche or industry (you can find a few useful examples here), freelance sites, and contact companies directly to inquire about openeings. The more creative you get the better.   

There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Resume

Despite what the Internet will tell you, spending hours working on your resume isn’t very productive. The sad truth is that there’s little you can do to really make yourself stand out from the crowd stack of resumes– well, maybe if you’re a prodigy or have at least six internships under your belt. Even if you decide to mail in a resumeit in on pink, scented paper, Elle Woods already did that. As long as it’s concise, clear, and free of any errors, your resume should be just fine. A recruiter will only spend a few seconds browsing through it.

Instead, focus on writing exceptional cover letters, targeted for the job you’re applying to. A well-crafted cover letter is more likely to grab an employer’s attention, especially if you manage to show off your enthusiasm and successfully sell yourself and your skills.

Your Degree Isn’t the Only Thing That Matters

Allowing your degree to limit your job hunt is a huge mistake. For instance, if you graduated with a degree in journalism, searching solely for jobs as a reporter may get you nowhere. The communication skills you gained in college though can qualify you to work in PR, as a media consultant or content writer. When you don’t fixate your search on a single position, your chances of finding a job increase significantly increase.

Now, it’s true that some degrees are more in demand than others: biomedical engineering, science, math. As you might have already figured out, liberal arts degrees aren't at the top of the list. On the same note, Harvard graduates will have a better chance of landing a job than community college alumni. Nonetheless, your degree isn’t everything. Even grades aren’t that important, since it’s unlikely a potential employer will ask for your college transcript during the interview.

Your skills are what really matter. Learn to highlight them as best you can. Are you looking to work as a designer? Develop some projects on your own to build a smashing portfolio before starting the job hunt. Do you want to write? Start a blog and get to it – at least you’ll have something of substance to show a recruiter. Remember that it’s always best to show proof on what you can do than to solely go on and on about your amazing skills, without anything to show that will back you up.

Don’t Waste Time

If you still have no idea about what you’d like to do with your life after graduation, there’s no need to panic. Your twenties are the perfect time to learn more about yourself and figure things out. And as long as you don’t do that while lying on the couch and watching Netflix all day, that’s perfectly OK.   

Don’t let your lack of direction prevent you from putting yourself out there and gaining work experience. For example, instead of holding out until you find out what your ideal job is, take one that isn’t ideal, but could lead to a better opportunity down the road. Or freelance, volunteer, take a temp job – whatever allows you to add something substantial to your resume. Wasting time isn’t a skill recruiters are interested in.

As a college graduate just entering the real world, you need to adjust your expectations. Your first job(s) might not be perfect, but they will allow you to adjust to the workplace and give you a chance to prove yourself. It’s up to you where you go from there.  

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