Are you a recent graduate looking where to start your career? Well, you are not alone. In the United States, 4 of 5 graduates leave college without a job. Although some of the large employers recruit through campuses, it’s far not enough to provide all students with work. Therefore, landing your first job is your own responsibility, and you should take it seriously, as the company you’ll join and the career path you choose will determine your professional future.
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Managing your expectations
When left without guidance and sense of direction in choosing a career and job hunting, recent graduates often go to extremes in assessment of job market conditions and their own professional level. One group believes that they’re smart enough to take on a serious, managerial role the diploma qualified them for and will find a job fast. Others claim that it’s nearly impossible to find a good job due to a fierce job market conditions and take jobs they’re under qualified for. So, who is right?
The truth is, as you get down to job hunting, you need to be realistic. Don’t expect that you’ll find a job in a month or that the dream job will find you itself. Finding your first job with no experience is a hard work that may take months. However, if you are persistent enough, you’ll find a job that meets your degree and career expectations. And the step-by-step guide prepared by our online resume services will help you make it happen.
Step 1. Create a career plan
All the great battles were won with the help of strategy and planning. To get the job you want, you need to have a clear understanding of what kind of career you’d like to pursue. Often it’s not as easy as it seems. You don’t have to write a detailed career plan (although it will do you any harm), but you do need to narrow down your job options to those appealing to you most. And if career options match your true calling, it’s even better.
Why is it necessary? It can seem that applying to any relevant job out there will help you get employed faster, but it’s not so. When you spread your effort, you lose efficiency and focus. You’ll need to research every company and role, rewrite your resume (standards resumes bring little results) and keep things in order in your head. So, defining your goals and planning on their achievement will help you save time and effort.
- Understand your career preferences. Our choice of job – even in the same field – depends on multiple factors, such as nature of work, flexibility of schedule and tasks, necessity to relocate and even corporate culture. (By the way, regardless of what company type you’d like to join, you’ll only benefit from learning the basic rule of office etiquette: LINK). For example, if you are a graduate journalist obsessed with field work and interviewing, you’ll definitely feel not realized as a copywriter.
- Narrow down your options. Based on your preferences, choose up to five types of jobs you’ll be applying for, and ignore the irrelevant postings. In the same time, try and broaden your criteria for considering jobs. For instance, if you can afford relocation, it makes sense to look up for jobs in other states. You can also consider the same type of career within the other industry. If you’re a journalist, it’s logical to stick to media and publishing industries; still, there are always lots of options in business and nonprofit (here’s the list of well-paying writing jobs: http://resumeperk.com/blog/list-of-profitable-job-positions-for-writers).
- Don’t see it as a lifelong career choice. Students often believe that their first job will determine the future career path. However, life isn’t as simple. In five years from now you can find yourself in a different role or industry as you change over time and your preferences change accordingly. So, upon graduation your major goal is to choose a career you will pursue in the next 1-3 years. And if you ever face a career crisis, you’ll have the opportunity to change your professional path.
Step 2. Write a resume
Your resume is the first thing a prospective employer will look at. Therefore, you need to take your resume writing seriously and take your time to create a truly informative and catchy copy. A perfect student’s resume is short, highlights your fit for the role and encourages the hiring manager to invite you for an interview. Here’s what you need to make your resume effective:
- Start with accessing your skills and experience. Before you start writing a resume, you need to analyze what you’re great at and what differentiates you from other candidates. Create a list of your skills, both hard and soft, and relevant experience. Everything can be presented as your competitive advantage – for instance, learn how to present your college athletic experience.
- Make it short – yet, include all the necessary sections. Student’s resume should not exceed one page. Even if you’ve worked while at the university, you still don’t have the experience that would excuse the second page. However, don’t forget to include all the information an employer expects to see: contact details, summary, education, experience, skills and other sections depending on your background.
- Ask for resume counseling. Many big universities offer career and resume writing counseling for students. So, if you’re not sure that you do everything correctly, do seek their guidance. If your university does not provide assistance of this kind, here you can find guide on how to write a graduate resume: http://resumeperk.com/blog/help-making-a-resume-for-freshers-15-tips.
- Focus on the employer’s needs, not yours. Recent graduates often miss this point as they see resume to show what they have to offer. Still, to get noticed, you need to focus on what you can potentially do for the employer if you get hired. Remove the experience or educational detail which is irrelevant (or you don’t know how to connect it with a prospective role). Most importantly, targeted and focused resume typically bring more responses and interview calls than if you were mailing the same copy to all employers. Here you can learn more about how to submit your resume online: http://resumeperk.com/blog/tips-where-to-park-your-resume-online-effectively.
- Avoid common resume mistakes. When you write a resume for the first time, it’s easy to get lost and make many mistakes. Although one minor mistake (such as including a vague objective instead of a summary) is unlikely to break it, a resume which looks modern and contains no mistakes will definitely draw the hiring manager’s attention. Learn more about what to include and what to leave out when writing a modern resume.
- Proofread it carefully. Once you’re done creating your resume, proofread it once or twice. Or, which is even better, get a second pair of eyes to check it and minimize the chance you’d missed some typo or grammar error. A proofread resume (and cover letter) are ready for job application.
Having troubles creating your resume on your own and looking where to order resume help online? Experienced writers of our company can assist you anytime. All you have to do is to fill out a simple questionnaire. Moreover, we offer additional 20% discount for recent graduates – check our pricing policy.
Step 3. Surviving job interviews
Interviews are a huge stress even for experienced job-seekers, needless to say about graduates who are already stressed by their thesis and overall uncertainty about their professional future. Interview is your chance to show your best to a prospective employer, as well as to find out whether the job is what you’ve been looking for. Effective interviewing is a skill; and, although you might feel insecure and tremble with nervousness during the first ones, you’ll get better with practice. Moreover, you need to know what to expect during the interview to feel more confident.
- Ask about the interview type. When a hiring manager calls you to invite for an interview, don’t be shy to ask about the type of an upcoming interview. Skype interview, one-to-one interview, group interview – all of them have differences in preparation. By knowing the interview type in advance, you’ll be prepared and won’t panic upon seeing several people in the interview room. Moreover, a hiring manager might conduct a phone screening prior to real interview – learn how to win a phone interview.
- Prepare thoroughly. The most popular reason for failed interviews is not having done your homework the day before. Simply showing up for an interview and telling about you is not enough. To make a lasting good impression, you need to be well aware of the company and its major affairs, think about how you can contribute to employer’s success and answer tricky interview questions in the right way. Moreover, keep in mind to dress according to the company’s corporate culture to highlight cultural fit.
- Practice interviewing. If you feel uncomfortable in front of the other person accessing you, practice interviewing at home with family member or in front of the mirror. Your task is to act like if you were actually in the middle of the interview. After short practices of this kind, you’ll learn to control your body language, give full and informative answers and feel more relaxed during a real interview. These expert tips will also help you to make a better impression during the interview: http://resumeperk.com/blog/20-important-tips-for-successful-job-interview.
- Manage your stress. A thorough preparation will minimize your stress as you’ll know how to answer most popular questions and follow your body language. But what to do if you know that you can lose control over your nerves? First, keep in mind that it’s okay to make a short pause before you answer. Take 1-3 seconds to think over your answer; you can ask for some water if you have a dry throat. Second, make a few deep breaths before the interview or meditate – these methods will help you relax and clear your thoughts.
- Keep the interview employer-centered and ask questions. Again, the best strategy during the interview is not to speak about how cool you are, but to present how your skills and your fresh diploma can be beneficial for the employer. It’s a good etiquette to answer your own questions at the end of the interview (don’t ask about the salary, though) – this shows your interest in the role. Here are a few examples of good questions to ask the interviewer: http://resumeperk.com/blog/top-15-questions-to-end-the-interview-with.
Step 4. Handling rejections and accepting a job offer
Before you get a desired job offer, you’ll undoubtedly go through a number of rejections. Yes, it can be painful to constantly get rejections, but the best thing you can do is not to take it personally. See those rejections as the possibility to understand skills or competences you lack in, and to grow in these areas.
Most of the cases, a rejection means that the company has found someone with a skill set or personality type matching them better. To make job rejections work in your favor, consider doing the following:
- Ask about the reason for rejection. Some hiring manager will give you the reason for rejecting your candidacy, but if they didn’t, don’t be shy to ask. Moreover, if after the interview you have a feeling you didn’t do very well, you can ask the interviewer about the feedback. And if they say something constructive, i.e. that you lack in communication, analytical or other important skills, consider working harder on improving them.
If you successfully make it to the interview stage but then often get rejected, the problem might be in your interview skills. Consider asking a career coach for help to understand what was wrong and correct it.
- Use feedback to refine your job search. When applying for jobs, you have some idea of how the work looks like and what is expected from you. However, if you have no prior experience, you might underestimate or don’t have full understanding of what is expected from a candidate for a role. After you have received several rejections (and reasons for them), you can access whether you do everything right. If several employers claim, for example, that you lack knowledge in standards of accountancy, this is probably the reason why you’re not getting jobs. And you’d better take more training if you still want to go into this line of work. By the way, willingness to collect feedback and learn from it will help you a lot with climbing up the corporate ladder in the future.
- Consider every detail before accepting a job offer. So, here’s the moment when you start getting job offers. Should you take it straightaway? Actually, you’ll need to consider many points before saying “yes”. First, read through your contract carefully and ask questions if something looks unclear to you. You can negotiate salary and benefits at this stage, especially if these matters haven’t been agreed upon earlier. Be sure to show the agreement to a legal consultant if something looks suspicious. Second, you shouldn’t leave anything that bothers you unclear – even the points which aren’t there in contract. It’s a good idea to ask these questions before accepting an offer and go from there.
If you’ve done everything right, after a short period of hard work and persistency you’ll get a desired job offer at hand. What to do if it’s your resume that holds you back? In this case, consider getting professional resume help from seasoned professionals and get your 20% student discount.
What if you can’t get a job?
However, sometimes job search process takes a lot longer than you had expected. In fact, it’s okay for a graduate to be job-hunting for four or even six months. How to act in this case? Here’s how to get the most out of your unemployment period and reach your career goal faster:
- Cut down your expenses. Since you are jobless, it makes sense to limit your expenses to avoid getting in debt. Create a budget that would only include the necessary expenses and stick to it. Of course, limiting yourself might seem stressful; nevertheless, spending the money that isn’t actually yours always turns out a bigger stress in the end. If you struggle managing your finance, try implementing one of the popular approaches to budgeting, such as envelope method or download the finance management app.
- Move in back to your parents’. Paying a rent is a huge expenditure which is easy to avoid if you move back home until the moment you find a full-time job. So, use this chance to save a great sum of money. More importantly, parents are unlikely to charge you for food and can only ask you to help about the house. Still, if you live with them for free, this is the least you can do for them.
- Advance your skills. Although job-hunting is like a full-time job itself, it doesn’t mean that you can rest on the laurels in your spare time. Use this period to make yourself more employable; and the best way to do so is to learn new skills. If you don’t know where to get started, research the skills which are expected from a professional in your desired field, and start working at one of them. Moreover, there are universal skills which are helpful in nearly every industry – for example, MS Office proficiency and writing. If you feel that writing is your weak point, check our writing for websites tips to master the basics of web writing.
- Do some voluntary work or participate in internship. For some companies, unpaid internships lead to pay employment. If your dream company provides such an opportunity, it’s worth it to try your luck. Even if you won’t be hired, you’ll gain a professional experience to include in your resume. However, beware of free internships which don’t lead to employment – some companies simply save their money by letting students or graduates work for them for free.
Voluntary work is a great choice during your unemployment period too. You don’t have to join some ambitious organization such as Peace Corps (it’s often very time-consuming) – any local organization will do. Perfect, if your voluntary activity will be somehow connected with your career (i.e. if you want career in finances, participating in fundraising activities for a charity organization will be a great experience). Not only getting busy will keep you motivated during the jobless period, but also it will help you develop professionally – active personalities are more liked by employers.
- Expand your professional contacts. As they say, it’s often not what you know but who you know. You may be surprised, but the best jobs are never advertised as people get hired for them through their connections. More connections mean more job opportunities. First, don’t stay in – there’s probably a plenty of career fairs, professional conferences or any other networking events in your city. It’s your chance to broaden your contacts and even get access to more job opportunities. To get the most out of such events, keep your conduct professional and check tips how to behave at corporate events. Secondly, consider expanding your network through LinkedIn. If you connect with everyone you’ve studied and work with, maybe, some of your connections will help with your job-hunting. In this case, learning more about peculiarities of working with your friends will come handy.
- Freelance or work part-time. Don’t neglect the opportunity to make extra cash if your job hunting takes you a while. Depending on what you can do well, you can babysit, wait for tables in a local café or do the homework for your neighbors. The advantages of such jobs are that you are paid daily or weekly, which is especially helpful if you don’t have a stable income. Freelancing is an option, too; and although most of freelance jobs require certain skills, there are entry level options as well - data entry, copywriting and administration to name a few. Before you start freelancing, see if freelancing is the right fit for you. And maybe, it will evolve into a full-time career – who knows?
- Consider different career options. This may sound controversial to what has been said in step 1, but here’s the point. If you haven’t found a job in like 4-5 months and you’re running out of money, it makes sense to broaden your search criteria. This makes sense especially if you don’t have a specific calling and only have an industry in mind. Consider searching jobs in other cities or the field which is similar to yours. Having a plan is good, but it’s important to make corrections to it along the way.
- Maintain positive and upbeat attitude. Yes, it can be frustrating when days and weeks of job searching have brought little result so far. Many graduates go through it, and sooner or later you’ll get the first real job as well. Don’t let the temporary setbacks put you down. Keep focused on the result and stay positive – by the way, the ability to face challenges positively is highly valued by employers.
Getting your first job
Landing your first job isn’t easy. However, planning, learning from your mistakes and persistence will help you get the desired job eventually. As soon as you get hired, keep in mind not to rest on the laurels. Be ready to go above and beyond of what is expected from you. Stay late, take extra responsibility and take any additional projects your boss offers you. This will help you keep the job and build a successful career with this company or any other.
Need an eye-catching graduate resume?
As a graduate, you probably don’t have a proper resume. If you are applying for a job with huge competition or simply don’t have time to create a resume on your own, consider getting it done professionally. Our experts know how a perfect graduate resume should look like and will gladly assist you anytime. Moreover, you can get your resume done with us in less than 24 hours – getting urgent resume help is just one click away.
Did you manage to find your first job after graduation?