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10 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 challenging 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 find that first job and what to do while you’re searching!  

1. Utilize alumni networking 

One of the most valuable parts of a college education is the networking and connections that you make. If you can’t find a job after college, alumni are typically your best bet for getting your foot in the door. Remember, you don’t need to personally know an alumni in order to reach out to them. If you find an alumni who 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. 

Alumni networks 

Many schools have alumni networks, 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!

Greek life

If you were a member of a Greek life or campus club, your organization may have its own alumni networking resources. Be sure to investigate all of these, as they are typically your best shot at finding a job. This is especially true of the alumni of smaller schools.

Online job websites

If your school does not have any 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!

2. Try volunteering

The idea of volunteering your time may not seem very appealing. Perhaps you have looming student loans to pay back and having just spent so much money on an education, it can seem discouraging to “work for free.” But sometimes, volunteering can be a great route to finding a paid position. 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. Volunteering doesn’t need to be something you devote all your time to. Maybe it’s something you just do once a week or every other week. 

Also see: Our review of WayUp, a job and internship search for college

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 and offer experience to point you in the right direction. This could be a family friend, an alumnus of your college, someone who you meet volunteering, or a veteran in the field.

Mentors don’t need to be much older than you in order to be helpful. As long as they are someone who can help you grow and make connections in your field, they’ll likely be very helpful to you!  

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. Although they tend to pay less than full-time positions, these positions are 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 full time positions in that field.

Many internships also offer full time job offers at the end of internships. 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 treat your internship like you would a regular job. You may even 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 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!

Don’t miss: How to write the perfect interview thank you email

6. Work on your resume

Taking the time to build a good resume is crucial to your job search! It’s important to maintain a resume that is tailored to each job you are applying for. Remember that your resume is not a one size fits all thing, as different jobs will want to see different skills reflected. It’s a good idea to change your resume to match the responsibilities and desired skills for each position you apply for. 

Keep a running CV

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.

Seek help

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, whether this is a career counselor, a friend, or family member. Advice from the career services available to alumni from your college can be very helpful as well.  

7. Pursue additional qualifications

Earning a bachelor’s degree is a remarkable requirement, and it’s worth taking a moment to pat yourself on the back for having completed it. Although many students are able to land a job from their undergraduate degree, sometimes it can prove difficult depending on the major. Earning an additional certification can help you stand out from the crowd and land that first job.

Certifications, unlike college, are relatively inexpensive and are not all that time-intensive. They can complement a bachelor’s well by certifying a demonstrated and specialized ability. Check out our list of the best certificate programs to pursue, and our guide for how to pay for these programs.

8. Shadow at jobs you’re interested in

Shadowing might feel like a bit of a step in the wrong direction, but we promise you, it’s not! Shadowing at a job is a great way to understand a career better, make connections in that field, and find out what you may or may not like about certain positions. 

Finding people to shadow isn’t always easy, but remember, the worst that can happen is that someone says “no.” In that case, you should thank them and move on to the next person. You never know where shadowing someone might lead or what connections you might make along the way! 

9. Start your own business

This one might seem a little out there for some readers, but it also might be exactly what you need to hear! You’ve finished college and this is your time to take a chance on your goal. Don’t forget that starting your own business doesn’t mean you can’t also be applying to other jobs at the same time. Starting a business is a big undertaking, but it is possible with planning and effort. Talk with someone you trust about your plans. Seek advice from people around you who may also own their own businesses or work in the same field you’re trying to break into. 

10. 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. Remember, all it takes is one job offer to end your search and launch your career. Once you begin building experience, it will only get easier and easier to find new jobs!

Related: What are the fastest growing careers?

Additional resources

Post-grad is an exciting time where students tackle a host of new experiences and challenges. Luckily, we’re here to help you through the process. If you took out student loans, make sure you’re aware of their grace periods. And if you’re looking at jobs in the public sector, make sure to check if you could qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

Frequently asked questions about finding a job after graduating college

Is it normal to not find a job after college?

Yes, it is common to face challenges when seeking a job after graduation. Searching for a job can depend on a lot of things, especially how quickly the job market can change without notice. Don’t fret too much if you are not having much success finding a job immediately after college–you are not alone!

How long do you have to find a job after college?

There’s no certain time frame in which you need to find a job after college. Depending on the type of job you are looking for, it will certainly take some longer than others to find employment. The important thing is not how long it takes to find a job, but the effort you are putting into finding a job. Work on building your resume and interview skills and it will pay off eventually!

How hard is it to find a job after college?

How difficult it is to find a job can depend on a lot of factors. When are you graduating? Where are you looking for a job? What field are you looking for a job in? All these things and so much more can impact your search. Remember that if you are having trouble finding a job, it may not be because of you. There are many factors outside of your control that also come into play. So don’t be too hard on yourself, and keep applying!