From college to colleague: a graduate’s guide to getting employed

If you’ve just graduated from college or university you are probably experience an almost overwhelming mix of emotions. People will be congratulating you and you will feel a great sense of achievement, having successfully completed your education.

However, at the same time you may well feel a little anxious about your future and having to enter the job market and build your career, not to mention having to pay back those student loans.

First off, congratulations on your graduation, you have a right to feel proud and should enjoy that sense of achievement and positive reflection. While stepping into the job market can be a daunting experience, it shouldn’t take anything away from those feelings of achievement and you should try to feel a sense of excited anticipation rather than anxiety. Job hunting is not any easy task but it doesn’t need to be something you fear, and with the right preparation and attitude it can even be something to enjoy.

A full-time job

Job seeking itself is a full-time job, if you’re going to take it seriously at least. You may want to take some time out to relax after your graduation, and maybe even take a holiday to recharge your batteries, but the sooner you get into the game the better.

The best attitude to take is to treat your job searching as a full-time job, getting organized, having priorities, working hard, and making sure you take holidays and breaks from searching responsibly.

You need to set yourself goals and make solid plans. Organize each day and each week in advance, with short term and long term targets, making sure you are always keeping pro-active and earning your break time.

Quality over quantity


The initial temptation will be to bombard job boards and agencies with your resume and standard application letters. While this will obviously improve your chances of getting interviews and job offers you didn’t spend all that time studying to simply get a job, you did it to build a career.

No matter how eager you are to get your first job interview it’s pointless if that interview is for a job which isn’t suitable for you and doesn’t justify the extra years you’ve spent in education (even if you are keen to pay back those student loans as soon as possible). Despite the competition you will be facing, the mass emailing, applications, and resume posting approach is not one best suited to your current situation.

Ideally you should be spending most of your time finding jobs and companies which best fit your skills and education, and then carefully tailoring applications to each ideal role. Don’t get fixated on the number of applications you make, the quality of the job and applications you make are far more important.

Make connections


Today’s job market is drastically different to that of 10, even 5 years ago. While in-house employment is still high, it’s now far easier to make connections with companies and employment groups, and employers are now using more alternative methods to seek graduates, many turning to social networks and online groups to start their hiring.

While you should be spending a good portion of your time searching for those ideal jobs and companies, you should also invest some of your time in connecting with likeminded professionals and graduate groups.

Sites and apps like Meetup and LinkedIn are an invaluable tool for graduates to network with their industry and professional groups. LinkedIn in particular is a good way to connect to companies which fit your profile, as well as staying connected with your Alumni and getting relevant graduate news and opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to let your friends and family on sites like Facebook and Twitter know that you have successfully graduated and are now looking for career opportunities, they may be able to give you some important connections or even recommend you to companies they know are hiring.

Friends and family can be a great source for employment, and companies take candidates who are recommended by existing employees more seriously than those they don’t know.

Research is key


Searching job boards, companies, and networking are all great ways to find opportunities, but knowing if they are the right opportunities for you, and successfully applying to those ideal jobs, is all about doing your research.

It’s one thing finding that perfect opportunity but another thing making yourself the perfect candidate. Once you do find a job or company which seems to fit exactly what you are looking for there may be a temptation to rush the application or dive in too soon.

Instead, you should be doing lots of research, studying the role, looking into who the company are, what they do, their history, and their key staff, all in order to get a clear understanding of who they are looking for. Once you have understood this you then need to cater your resume and application to highlight the areas of your education, experience, and achievements to show that you are the person for the job.

Patience and persistence


Finding that first career job will take time. You may hear about graduates who fall straight into their perfect role shortly after graduation, and while these people are incredibly fortunate, that doesn’t take anything away from your own job search.

As we’ve already stated, job seeking is a full-time job in itself, and rushing the process or making quick applications will only hamper your efforts to find the perfect role. Show great patience and keep going, always putting in lots of time and effort into finding opportunities that are right for you, and investing the right time and effort into making applications.

Just as with any job, you will find that the longer you spend searching for jobs and making applications (the right way), the better you will get at it and the stronger you’re applications will be. Don’t lose heart if the process seems to take too long, simply be persistent, keep your days and weeks structured and planned out, and keep busy. Once you do get your first career job it will have all been worth it.