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Best Insider Tips to Land Your First Job Out of College

Don't be intimidated by your first big job hunt. Learn the best strategies and resources to make your career search successful here!

At some point, all college students will graduate and look forward to life after college. While it’s exciting, it takes a lot of strategizing to figure out what the right position, employer, and job location are for you. Instead of postponing your job hunt, be confident in your skill set and all the hard work you did to get your degree. Getting your first job out of college will go smoothly if you decide on a specific career path, write an outstanding résumé, and use the appropriate online tools to benefit you.

Decide on a career path

You’ve worked hard to get a degree, and now it’s time to think about which specific career path to take. You’ve probably been thinking about this for a while. After graduation, you should solidify which direction you’re heading in. Consider what you’d like to do full-time. If you have specific skills, use your degree for the position you desire. If you double-majored or have a minor, for example, there might be more than a couple job options to pursue. Depending on your skill set, you can decide what role will best fit with your degree and career goals moving forward. Take the time to write out job specifics and figure out where you’re the most trained. For example, say you have a bachelor’s degree in Communications, and your focus is in interpersonal communications. Here are some options you have for a career path:

  • Social media manager
  • Event planner
  • Development officer
  • Health educator
  • Technical writer

As you can see, there are many options to choose from, and some positions encompass more than one specialty. Have a good idea of what positions you want to look for before you start searching.

Related: What Career Path Is Right for Your Personality?

Write your résumé

There are many examples of exceptional résumés out there, and your college’s career office will have quite a few examples to check out. You can also chat with your college advisor and see what he or she recommends you highlighting. Remember that the perfect résumé will still need tweaking from time to time—you’ll need to highlight skills for one target job and other skills for different potential employers. When you’re writing your résumé, keep in mind there are three primary kinds of résumés job hunters use:

  • Functional
  • Chronological
  • Combination

New graduates typically use a functional résumé layout. Why? Functional layouts are a good fit for new graduates because they highlight skills and work experiences. Chronological résumés are common, but since they list work experience from most recent to least recent, it’s likely not a good fit. You’re a new graduate who doesn’t have a lot of work experience yet, and that’s okay. A functional résumé will highlight your skills and how you can contribute those skills to a new position. And if you’re wondering what a combination résumé is, it’s just what it sounds like: a combination that features your previous jobs and your skills! When you work on your résumé, make a few different copies. Making various versions based on the companies you’re targeting will better align you with each unique job position. But always be sure to list the following:

  • Contact information
  • Description of your career goals
  • Accomplishments in college
  • Key skills
  • Career-related activities (i.e., volunteer work, study abroad, professional associations, and leadership positions)

Related: Entry-Level Résumé Mistakes to Avoid as a New Grad

Develop a job-hunting strategy

Now that your résumé is all set, start learning all you can about your job focus! But you shouldn’t go into this without a strategy and a health focus on your end goals for where you may end up. Before applying for jobs, there’s some research you should do. Here are a couple of distinct things you should be doing and looking for in your job search.

Study the job market and current salaries

The job market varies depending on where you live, so do some research on the job market in your area. You can also look at salary trends online by typing in a key phrase such as “entry-level” in front of job titles you want to look up. (One site that can assist you in looking up salaries is Indeed, which lets you see what you potentially could get paid.)

Establish a schedule

As you start your search, treat it as a job and establish a daily schedule. The trick to job hunting is to be consistent and checking for new job listing every day—because there will be new listings every day. Just because one day may look bleak without a lot of offerings, doesn’t mean you won’t see two or three (or maybe more!) great listing that just get posted on a different day. Sticking with a schedule will keep you accountable and dedicated.

Related: 5 Job Search Survival Tips for College Seniors

Use the right tools

The internet makes it easy to search and apply for jobs, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to look first. There are so many tools available to you, so why don’t we discuss a few? (We also included a few different ways to look for jobs. These unique tools may enable you to find an incredible career that other job hunters haven’t caught onto yet!)

Facebook

You would think that more graduates would look for jobs on Facebook, but it turns out that the social media powerhouse didn’t allow companies to post job ads until 2017. You may not notice every Facebook job ad that pops up, which is why it’s ideal that you can search for jobs in your area. Search for jobs on Facebook, and you can apply directly on the platform as well!

Indeed

Who hasn’t heard of Indeed? Search this website and you’ll find millions of job listings. It pulls from various sources such as newspaper classifieds, company career pages, job boards, and more.

LinkedIn

Not only is LinkedIn a great way to showcase your skills, educational achievements, and jobs, it’s also ideal for job hunting! LinkedIn is the biggest online professional network for a reason. You can hunt for jobs, recruiters can contact you, and don’t forget—you should be networking too! There are countless of other sites where you can hunt for jobs on, such as Glassdoor, Monster, Twitter, Instagram—the list goes on and on. (Yes, companies do post on Instagram and Twitter looking for new employees!) Here’s a tip: pull up job listings by searching for hashtags such as #nowhiring and add locations such as #nowhiringarizona. Do some research and make a short list of your favorite sites so you don’t get overwhelmed. After a while, explore other sites and compare them to see if there are more or fewer opportunities than what’s on your shortlist.

Related: How to Be Smart When Building a Strong LinkedIn Profile

Apply and prepare for interviews

Who would have thought that more than 60% of people who hunt for work on Indeed use their smartphone to apply? It’s convenient to look for work on your mobile phone, and it’s easy to submit an application too. After you fill out an application, confidently submit it. You may not hear back from an employer right away, but it’s good to start applying for various jobs that interest you. Refer to your shortlist of job sites so you can regularly apply for jobs, and when you get a call, get excited because it’s interview time! We could write a whole other article on interviews, but just know that you need to dress to impress and prepare ahead of time. Read up on a company, know about the position, and develop a series of responses and questions. There’s no doubt you’ll succeed!

Bonus: Take advantage of your college’s resources

There are many colleges resources at your disposal. Check out the college career office, college job fairs, and recruiting programs. Use these resources to help you hunt for a job. One of the most important resources you should take advantage of is the college career center. If you haven’t already, visit your college’s career services office to get hooked up with multiple job-hunting services. Career center staff can point you to job and internship listings, career counseling, and other forms of assistance. They also can help you tweak your résumé and cover letter and practice interviews with you. While at the career center, you should ask about upcoming job fairs or if there are any networking opportunities available.

Related: 9 Essential Job Search Resources for College Students

As you can see, applying for jobs takes a lot of strategizing. However, after working hard on your degree, this should be the easy part. You have all the skills and experience you need to get a great entry-level job out of school; you just have to look for the right career path and do the work of presenting all you have to offer in the right way. Follow these tips and soon enough you’ll have more interviews lined up than you can handle!

Looking for more job search advice? Check out our Internships and Careers section.

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