Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
7 Tips for When You Can’t Find a Job After Graduating College
If you’re a recent college grad who can’t find a job after graduation, you’re not alone! Securing that first job after college can be a long and difficult process for many students. It may feel like you’ve sent out an endless number of applications but aren’t hearing back. Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you secure that first job and jump-start your career. Read on to learn exactly what to do when you can’t find a job after college:
1. Utilize alumni networking
One of the most valuable parts of a college education is the networking and connections that you make. Oftentimes, alumni of a particular college are predisposed towards finding employees who also attended their school. If you find someone who graduated from your school and now runs a company or is in charge of hiring, you should reach out to see if they have any open positions in your field of interest. If you can’t find a job after college, alumni are typically your best bet to get your foot in the door.
There are a few different ways to tap into alumni networking resources. Many schools have career engagement offices and web portals. Alumni use these job posting boards to recruit talent from their alma mater. These jobs will typically have much lower application pools than jobs you’ll find on Indeed or ZipRecruiter. You’ll also have shared experience with the people interviewing you, which can lead to better chances.
If your school does not have one of these programs, or if it is underdeveloped, you have other options. You can try reading your school’s alumni magazine or looking for alumni on LinkedIn to connect with. If you were a member of a greek life or campus club, your organization may have its own alumni networking resources. You should be sure to investigate all of these, as they are typically your best shot at finding a job. This is especially true of alumni of smaller schools.
2. Try volunteering
If you’re a recent college alumnus, the idea of volunteering your time may not seem very appealing. You could have looming student loans to pay back and having just spent so much money on an education, it can seem discouraging to accept work for free. But sometimes, it can be a great route to finding a paid position.
If you need to pay the bills, you can find a service or retail job to work for the time being while spending your time off volunteering. Especially if you’re looking for nonprofit sector work, volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door, demonstrate interest, and make connections. But if you are volunteering with the intent of landing a job, make sure to keep this in the forefront of your mind. If you start a volunteer position and find that it is not leading anywhere or building any skills for you, be prepared to walk away and find a new position.
3. Seek out a mentor
A mentor in your field of interest could be an invaluable resource in the search for your first job after college. Having a mentor can help you find connections in the field and offer experience to point you in the right direction. This could be a family friend, an alumnus of your college, or someone who you meet volunteering.
A good mentor could be a veteran in the field, or even someone who is just a few years older than you. Each has their own advantages. An older mentor will have a huge breadth of experience to offer you. Someone younger will have gone through the initial job hunt more recently. This means their information will be more current and fresher in their head.
4. Look for internships
For many recent alumni, the first position you find may not be a full-time position, but rather an internship or fellowship. Keep your eyes peeled for internship opportunities. Although they tend to pay less than full-time positions, they are also more geared towards imparting experience on the employee. At a well-run internship, you’ll pick up a variety of skills that can be applied towards positions in the field.
Many internships also offer the opportunity to turn into full-time positions at the organization. If you prove to be a good fit at your company or organization, you may be offered a full-time position at the end of the period. As an intern, you should ensure that you fulfill all your responsibilities, but also pursue any responsibilities that you are especially interested in. You may be able to carve out your own role for yourself at the organization.
Related: How to get an internship
5. Hone your interview skills
Job interviews can be stressful, but they are crucial elements of the application process. They’re an opportunity to stand out, show your passion for your work, and demonstrate your teamwork skills. Make sure to practice your interviews by rehearsing talking points to answer common questions, and run through them with friends and family. Your confidence will show clearly in the interview and impress any recruiter or potential boss.
6. Work on your resume
Resume-building is a specialized skill that takes a lot of work. It’s a good idea to change your resume to match the responsibilities and desired skills for each position you apply for. Oftentimes, applicants will maintain a CV, which is a running list of all their experience and the responsibilities and skills gained at each position. When it comes time to apply for a job, you can pick and choose from this CV and reword your experience to match the job description optimally.
Resumes may seem intuitive, but there is a precise art to crafting one that communicates your assets concisely and effectively. You’ll want to consult someone for help with your resume to help you get a feel for them. Whether this is a career counselor or a friend or family member with experience with resumes and job applications, this can be very helpful.
7. Keep your chin up!
Perhaps our most important piece of advice is to keep your chin up! Remember that if you can’t find a job after college, you’re not alone. Finding a job after college can be difficult and take a lot of time. You may think that you are receiving an abnormal number of rejections, but you’re not. In fact, a 2021 study by Zippia found that on average, it took applicants 100 to 200 applications to receive one job offer. Remember, all it takes is one job offer to end your search and get you started with your career. Once you begin building experience, it will only get easier and easier to find new jobs.