Graduating from college and stepping out into the real world as a true, bonafide adult is one of our most significant transitions in life. You’re riding high after making it through your studies, and it’s time to go use those credentials in the professional world.
And then, you try to find your first “real” job…
Job searching as a new grad today is not for the faint of heart. It requires commitment, persistence, and patience. Ok, maybe mindset-to-withstand-an-apocalypse is more like it. It’s maddening, exciting, frustrating, and confusing all at the same time.
17 New Grad Job Search Tips
I’ve helped dozens of new grads navigate the wacky world of entry-level job searches, and learned a few things along the way.
Here, I offer you a collection of new grad job search tips to help you (or your new grad) find your way in this weird new world you’re working to navigate.
- PUT AWAY THE PRIDE. While I know we all want to navigate the new-grad-job-search monster on our own, now is not the time to let your ego get in the way of help. This is the time to leverage mom and dad’s contacts (and everyone else in the family and friend network) to your benefit.
- CUT BACK ON PERFECTION. You don’t need to land the most perfect, dream job, everything I ever wanted, ideal role right now. You need to get your career started, and there’s a range of opportunities that will offer that door. Aim for an attainable point of entry that gets you experience (to move past new grad status) and provides options for the future.
- MORE IS NOT BETTER. Refine your new grad job search to include three job types (perhaps 5 max depending on your education and experience). While it may seem counterintuitive, a targeted approach will be more streamlined and effective versus throwing “it” all at the wall. Trust me.
- DON’T STOP LEARNING. Continue building “hard” skills and marketable capabilities, like Udemy or Coursera. This is not only a great way to add additional abilities (and keywords) to your new grad resume, but it’s also a good filler for “what have you been doing since graduation.” Additionally, professional development is an excellent use of your time. Consider reading books to boost your professionalism and understanding.
- LEVERAGE COURSEWORK ON YOUR RESUME. I think this is one of the biggest missed opportunities I see in new grad resumes churned out from college career services. Relevant coursework is a keyword opportunity sitting right there before your eyes! For a whole lot more resume tips, check out our Top 10 Resume Writing Tips.
- PLAY UP INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCES. If there was one piece of advice worth all 17 listed here, it would be GET AN INTERNSHIP. However, assuming you’re at the point of graduation, that ship may have sailed. I’m going to hope it didn’t, and you were able to secure one summer internship, and you should utilize this experience to the fullest! Include descriptions of your experiences in detail on your resume. Good talking points: what did you learn, who did you work with, what projects did you contribute to, what impacts did you make?
- LEVERAGE CAPSTONES AND CLASS PROJECTS. If written out in two-to-three sentences, capstones and significant course projects can be a huge asset to resume-building as a new grad. Not only does it boost keywording, but it can also show additional experience, even if academic, around certain subject areas. Are you asking yourself: what is a capstone? Skip and move to tip #8
- HIGHLIGHT YOUR WELL-ROUNDEDNESS. Listing volunteer work, campus involvement, clubs, activities, and extra “stuff” can show your commitment to the community, ability to communicate with a range of people, and the soft skills you developed throughout your studies.
- JOIN PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS. If you haven’t already, seek out local organizations and utilize the directory to reach out to established professionals for networking and informational interviews (more on this in No. 17)!
- UTILIZE CAREER SERVICES. I think we’d all agree that our school’s career services don’t fully prepare us for new grad job searching post-graduation, but it can still be a great resource, even as a new alumnus. Your school likely has networking events, career fairs, and other hiring events that you may still be able to take advantage of as a new grad.
- SHOW INITIATIVE. Tracking down and starting your own independent projects after graduation can be a game-changer to filling the gap and giving you something to talk about when you’ve been asked “what have you been doing since graduation.”
- HARNESS THE POWER OF LINKEDIN. If there was one thing I wish college career centers around the world would adopt, it’s the idea that you need to have a LinkedIn profile and start building a presence there before you graduate! This is your mission. Having a complete profile gives you legitimacy in the real world. Make sure you have a picture, all sections of your profile are completed, and you have your recruiter search settings on and targeted. Once you’ve gotten to that point, you can take the important step to build connections. Get our “copy and paste” LinkedIn Scripts for conversations with Recruiters, Alumni, and for requesting Informational Interviews.
- NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. AND THEN NETWORK SOME MORE. This piece of advice comes full circle with #1: you’ve got to put away the pride and bring people into your process. If all you do is hit the APPLY button, this will be your job for a long time. Entry-level job searches are competitive and high volume; you have to make yourself stand out. This is where LinkedIn, family connections, college events, and informational interviews (see number 17 for more on this) all come into play.
- LOOSEN UP. In addition to alleviating the perfectionism, as discussed above, do the same with hard-nosed and overly tunnel-visioned goals that could preclude you from discovering a great opportunity now. Highly specific goals for the future are great to an extent, but they can also cause anxiety when trying to get yourself into such a track. Again, the key is to get yourself started in the professional world as a new grad with a logical point of entry that has options. One of those options might be that dime-sized target, but you never know what doors will open up and show you new possibilities along the way.
- SHARPEN YOUR INTERVIEW SKILLS. New grad hiring is, effectively, a level playing field because you all have the same experience to differentiate you: none. While some will have internships, the experience is so limited, it’s more of the foot in the door to the interview than a selling point into the job. Strong communication skills, confidence, and a winning, relatable personality that shows them how great a fit you are for their team, will land you on top. Practice our “Rule of 3” method for answering interview questions. We have perfected this process through the years of working with hundreds of clients. Additionally, we have created an Online Interview Course through Udemy. This course packs a huge VALUE and tons of SAVINGS when compared to individual coaching.
- PLAN AND PROCESS. Whether you’re 22 or 42, having a job search plan and process is the key to any successful hunt. Develop a routine for job searching that encourages repetition and a methodical approach to applications, networking, and informational interviews. Eliminate distractions by establishing set times for searching, follow-up, and job search activities so you have accountability to do them…and accountability to not make it your entire life at the same time!
- INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. As referenced in number 13, set up informational interviews. Here is how we recommend identifying the people to interview with and what you should cover during the interview
There you have it.
New grad job searching can be that simple with a plan, process, and attitude check. Just remember not to let it get the best of you and find someone to hold you accountable, like a mentor.
Want some 1-on-1 help. I’d say it’s time to book a free strategy session, so we can figure out how to help you with your new grad job search!