How To Get Your 1st Job After College


Students experience tremendous pressure before getting their first job upon completing college. This is a time when s/he has zero work experience and very little knowledge about how to go about the job search.

To get your 1st job after college, focus on:

  1. College Career Center
  2. Internships
  3. LinkedIn Profile
  4. Professional Resume and Cover Letter
  5. Networking with Mentors and Contacts
  6. Knowledge of Companies and Job Opportunities
  7. Top 10 Interview Questions
  8. Increasing Job Applications for College Major

Each of these steps requires concentrated effort and leaving out specific details of any of the above can significantly delay your 1st worthwhile job offer.

HOW TO GET A JOB AFTER COLLEGE WITH NO EXPERIENCE

To get a job upon recently completing college, it is important to understand the type of jobs and skills that employers are looking for. This will vary depending on the college major and the available job opportunities out there in your particular field.

COLLEGE CAREER CENTER

Meet career counselors and staff at your college career center and let them know that you recently graduated and that you’re interested in getting a job that relates to your college major.

Listen carefully to their feedback, share basic details of your accomplishments and thank them for their assistance. Once you have a professional resume prepared, go back to them, give them a copy of your resume and follow up on possible job opportunities.

Also inquire about any immediately available internships which are a good fit for your interests and college major.

Additionally, ask for references to college alumni who hold good industry positions in a field that is relatable to your college major.

LINKEDIN AND RESUME

Go over to LinkedIn and list out your major accomplishments and prepare a good summary of all your learning and achievements such as college projects and so on.

Also take a look at a few interesting profiles of people with relatable jobs that you’re interested in. This will give you an idea of how to present yourself on LinkedIn in a professional, positive and interesting way.

If you have any favorite professors from your college, request them to give you a good reference on LinkedIn highlighting your major abilities and accomplishments during college.

PROFESSORS AND INDUSTRY MENTORS

College professors can be great mentors in some cases. Also call your college alumni references and have a general chat with them and ask for their advice and assistance.

Your professors are likely to know people in the industry and can give you valuable references to people you can talk to in your chosen field.

When meeting someone whom you can relate to very well, be sure to ask them if you can visit them briefly at work to get an informal understanding of the job role and responsibilities at their company.

COLLEGE ALUMNI CONTACTS

College alumni are likely to form a good bond with you as they will be able to put themselves in your shoes and will be more inclined to helping you out.

Some of them might ask for your resume to refer you in the same company they are working for. This could be a great start to your first job.

FOCUS ON IN-DEMAND FIELDS/ INDUSTRIES

If your field or major is in a high-demand field within STEM, computer technology, healthcare or finance, there are going to be many opportunities available.

Or if you have a degree in business administration, liberal arts or perhaps teaching, it will still be beneficial if you can find a related position in an in-demand field or industry such as healthcare, science, technology or finance.

A one or 2 page resume highlighting all your college projects and certificates in reverse chronological order (from most recent to older dates) will help prospective employers to understand what you have to offer.

PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES AND INTERNSHIPS

Good references from your college professors and any other professional mentors will make a good impression and might be required as part of the job offer.

If you had the opportunity to intern, this will look great in your resume and pull in more professional references for you. Some candidates are successful at getting their first job at the same company in which they were previously an intern.

So interning is a great way to getting your first salaried job.

COMPANIES AND JOB REQUIREMENTS

You will also need to get familiar with companies which provide many job openings for your field or college major. You can apply for open positions directly from company websites and also via popular job search sites such as Monster, CareerBuilder or LinkedIn Jobs.

PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEW PREPARATION

As for interview preparation, it is good to get familiar with the whole interviewing process by signing up with a good interview preparation course or training such as Interview Mastery.

Many graduates make the mistake of simply going with the flow of ad-hoc interviews but it make a huge positive difference when you complete a professional interview training.

JOB MARKET FOR RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATES

IN-DEMAND POSITIONS

Companies are always looking for candidates with work experience so it can be a bit challenging getting that first job after college. But in every industry there are some entry-level positions that are always in constant demand.

To figure out which positions are in demand for your occupation, simply choose some free popular job search sites and do a general job search for relatable job roles.

KEY JOB SKILLS

Go deeper into the job search and try to find a few skills that are important and sought after by employers. Search for critical tasks or skills asked for in the open job requirements in the top job search sites.

Find a way to learn one or more of these important skills by taking online courses at a site such as Coursera, edX or Udacity. You can also plan for and prepare to write certification exams for those specific skills. Such courses and certificates can make you stand out ahead of other job seekers in your industry.

EXPERIENCE

Most advertised positions ask for work experience and in case your job search takes longer than a couple of months, you should seriously consider applying for intern positions. Most intern positions do not pay any salary but provide valuable experience and references.

Some candidates also find that the company they interned with offers them a salaried job after a few months of good performance. So this is a great way to get your very first job after college graduation.

Alternately, you can also look for volunteering positions in your local community that are somewhat related to your overall occupation. This will help build up some work experience and professional contacts for you.

GOOD RESUME FORMAT FOR RECENT GRADUATES

KEEP IT SHORT

The entire resume can be about 2 pages long, starting with your name and aspiring job title you are applying for. Next, highlight your top 3 to 5 accomplishments from college, high school and any partime work you had during college.

COLLEGE/ HIGH SCHOOL

Follow this up with your college degree title, overall GPA and GPA for your college major. You can follow this up immediately with other accomplishments during college such as any leadership positions held, awards, sports accomplishments, volunteer positions and so on. Any significant accomplishments in high school can also be mentioned after the college accomplishments.

SKILLS AND CERTIFICATES

Next, list all the certificates or courses you’ve completed after college such as any online courses you obtained certificates for. Also highlight all the skills you have for the position such as computer skills and so on.

WORK EXPERIENCE

Next, highlight your major accomplishments in your partime work experience you’ve had during college. The more your partime work during college fits in with your overall college major the better.

Be sure to highlight skills and accomplishments that closely align with the requirements for the position you are applying for.

The whole point is to show that you’ve worked hard and succeeded well in college, school and work, and therefore you will be able to succeed in a similar way at a regular fulltime job.

If possible, find a way to tie your college courses or previous work to key job requirements of the target position.

For specific resume examples and more, check out Tony Beshara’s Unbeatable Resumes.

COMPANIES AND JOB SEARCH SITES

Go to the top job search sites such as Indeed, Monster or CareerBuilder to find jobs that you are likely to be a good fit for. Try many search keywords that target specific job titles and skills for your occupation.

When doing this search, I’ve often found certain skills to be in high demand. So if you find such sought-after skills that many employers are looking for, it would be beneficial for you to gather up some of those in-demand skills.

Job Search is usually a numbers game, so the more positions you apply for, the more opportunities you have to interview with prospective employers. Just be sure you have a superb resume and cover letter before you starting applying for many positions.

Keep a good record of all positions you have applied for so that you can cross-reference these when you receive calls from recruiters and managers.

JOB INTERVIEWING FOR RECENT GRADUATE

EMOTIONAL STRESS

Interviewing for a job is usually an emotionally stressful process for the unprepared. So do not go into it blindly without adequate preparation.

Employers generally look for the slightest reason to screen out candidates so they can find the most qualified person for the job. Out of tens or sometimes hundreds of applications for a particular job, only one, or in some cases two or utmost three are offered the job.

The candidate who is given a job offer is generally vetted out by many managers and senior staff from multiple departments. So it is quite likely that you will not get every single job you interview for.

INTERVIEW PREPARATION

But to greatly maximize your chances, it’s best to start with an excellent resume and then to follow that up with solid interview preparation. Be sure to note down about 10 or 20 questions that employers are likely to ask in an interview. Then write down how you will answer their questions in such a way as to put your best credentials forward.

Two services which I’ve personally found to be excellent for getting job offers are:

Additionally, you can also take a look at my Job search and Interview Preparation book that’s primarily focused on recent college graduates.

CANDIDATE SCREENING PROCESS

Recruiters initially screen out candidates from the pile of resumes received and shortlist about 5 or more resumes/ candidates for further interviewing. Then either the recruiter or a HR person reaches out to the candidate to validate the candidate’s skills and to get basic information such as location preferences, expected salary and so on.

Then the shortlisted candidates from the above process are shared with the employer’s department or group manager for that position. The manager or another senior team member initially sets up a phone interview to speak with the candidate.

This initial interview is likely to go over all the key skills required for the position. Most candidates are usually unable to correctly answer all the questions the interviewer asks them.

But instead of stressing out on answering every single question correctly, you need to answer as many of their questions correctly as possible. And for the ones which you’re unsure of or do not know the answer to, be transparent and tell the interviewer that you do not know the answer.

But after stating that you do not know the answer to the question, be sure to communicate to them that given the opportunity, you will do everything in your power to learn the required skills which you currently do not possess for correctly answering that question.

YOUR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

When you are given the opportunity to ask a few questions, be sure to have one to three questions handy that indicate your interest and knowledge about the position requirements.

Through your questions about the job requirements, or any other work-related questions you may have, convey to the interviewer that you sincerely intend to give your best performance in that position.

INTERVIEW FEEDBACK

Most interviewers give their feedback the same day for phone interviews.

If things went great in a phone interview, your best clue about that is when they come back to schedule a face-to-face in-person interview with you.

But for the in-person interview, some companies take a week or more to give their feedback. This is because there might be multiple managers or staff who need to put together their opinion about the candidate to jointly decide if the candidate is worthy of joining the company team.

If everyone gives a final nod to the candidate, there might still be other steps that the HR team and department manager need to finalize regarding the salary and other perks of the offer.

JOB OFFER AND PERKS FOR RECENT GRADUATE

For a recent college graduate, it is best to simply accept any reasonable offer or salary as long as the work duties provide sufficient room for you to learn and grow in that position.

The first job is usually the place to learn all the important skills for your occupation and this will affect your career for many years into the future. So be sure to choose a good job in which you can learn a lot and give a second preference to the salary.

As long as the salary and job title is something reasonable for your occupation, there is simply no harm in accepting such a job offer.

To find the salary range for your occupation, have a look at one or more sites such as PayScale or Glassdoor.

YOUR FIRST FEW MONTHS IN A NEW JOB

Your first 3 to 6 months in a new job are considered very important. This is when your bosses and colleagues will be watching you keenly to see how well you perform and fit in with the company culture.

Be sure to ask for help when needed and offer your assistance in all work related matters that you have some knowledge of. Be eager to learn new things and put in a lot of hard work and smart work too.

Additionally, it’s best to build a strong network of co-workers and supporters in your new company. So be sure to participate in any group lunches, cafe lunches and other non-work networking events in your company.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS

How Long Does It Take To Get Your 1st Job After College?

If you are a go-getter and immediately create your LinkedIn profile, resume, cover letter and meet industry contacts soon after college graduation, you are likely to get your 1st job within 6 months from the time of college graduation.

In case you are able to intern in your junior or senior year in college, you might already have a job offer upon graduating college. Or at the very least, you will have valuable professional references and mentors whom you can reach out to with your resume as soon as you complete college.

Spend your first few months after college seriously in getting your 1st job offer and this will set you up with a good career. Also be sure to focus on your emotional well being, maintain good diet and stay fit, so that you can stay positive, focused and healthy during your job search and further on as you start your career.

What Are the Easiest Jobs To Get After College?

The easiest job offers often come due to networking and when you are referred into the company by someone you know very well. So be sure to contact your college alumni and any senior students you made friends with while you were studying in college.

Also keep in touch with your classmates so that you can share your job search experiences. It is likely that one of your old classmates could refer you for a job in their company!

If you were a top-performing A student, or if you have a good rapport with any of your college professors, this is another easy way to be referred for a job with their friends or industry contacts.

The other easy way to your 1st job is via interning. If you land a good internship in college or after college, which is a good match for your interests and college major, give it your best to make it work in your favor with a good job offer.

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