Graduating from college opens up a new world of challenges. Though your education has prepared you for the work world, it might not have defined the specific steps and processes needed to get that first job. As an IT staffing firm, we have experience with the entire job search process and know which strategies will help you find and acquire a satisfying career. With that, here’s our guide for getting a job after college.
Write a Resume for the Career You Want
Most college grads have written resumes for internships or college jobs. It’s not a completely foreign concept. What most don’t know is how to design a resume for the career they want. Here are a few resume tips that can help make a positive impact on potential employers:
- Customize your accomplishments – Accomplishments resonate more than duties. They show you work towards goals rather than punch the clock. Furthermore, you want to pick accomplishments that appeal to your dream company. If your wins sync up with their own goals, it’s easier for them to justify an interview.
- Leverage numbers when possible – You talk the talk but do you walk the walk? Using quantifiable numbers in your resume implies that you do. If you’ve helped increase revenue, boost productivity, lower expenses, or grow teams, be sure to include those convincing figures in your resume.
- Double and triple check the basics – Be clear and concise. Spell check and proof your writing. Create a clean and consistent format. Get a second pair of eyes on your resume. Any spelling, grammar, or formatting mistakes can bar you from an interview – even if the rest is appealing.
Get LinkedIn to Find Jobs for You
LinkedIn is a great tool for searching jobs and networking with your peers. However, you need to be able to differentiate yourself from the other 467 million LinkedIn users. Thankfully, just because you’re new doesn’t mean you’ll get overlooked. Here are a few LinkedIn tips for recent college graduates to follow:
- Get professional with your photo – Your LinkedIn profile picture is your first impression, so it needs to be sharp. In fact, the picture itself should be high resolution. You should be dressed for the job you want and behind a blank wall or natural setting that doesn’t distract from the focal point: you.
- Tailor your keywords to your dream job – Optimizing the technical keywords in your LinkedIn profile draws recruiters to you. If you can’t think of the right keywords, search for people with your desired job title and spread those terms (when relevant) throughout your summary, work experience, and education.
- Activate the Open Candidates feature – This newer feature allows you to notify recruiters about which positions, titles, locations, and industries that interest you. That way, you can set the right companies and recruiters on your trail while you simultaneously search, cutting down your job hunt time.
Network to Kickstart Your Career
Without much entry level work experience, finding your first job will require some strategy. Honestly, it’s better to work smarter than harder. Here are a few networking tips to help you build bonds and encourage other professionals to take an interest in your career:
- Make network opportunities – Networking can happen anytime, anywhere. Though specific networking events, college career fairs, or industry conferences are good for building early connections, you can take any interaction and, if leveraged the right way, turn it into a network building opportunity. Guide the conversation to professional topics and ask about the other person’s career.
- Take part in your alumni network – Your alma mater offers a built in ice-breaker. Networking with fellow alumni engenders a natural sense of camaraderie, making it easier to launch into deeper topics that can strengthen your connection and open up possible opportunities.
- Be the contact everyone wants – Good networking is not just about asking for help. It’s about giving back. Share engaging perspectives and insight. Pass along info on great opportunities. Act as a reference. Or just be willing to talk and listen. Whatever you do, be there for those in your network.
Interview Smart to Build Your Career
There’s often an assumption that you need to take an entry level job to build early experience. But why settle for any 9 to 5 that isn’t growing your career? Here are a few interview strategies that will get your career growing in fertile soil.
- Set the right tone – Non-verbal communication accounts for 93% of the messages we send. Matching your interviewer’s posture and gestures sends a subtle message that you are like-minded. Making comfortable eye-contact keeps people at ease and shows you’re engaged. Plus, even arriving 15 minutes early sends a non-verbal message that you are committed to the job.
- Customize responses to the company – Companies aren’t usually reinventing the wheel with interview questions. In fact, a few classic behavioral and situational questions get the most out of candidates. Use that to your advantage. Prepare responses for the most common interview questions that address the company’s business goals and challenges and you’ll set yourself apart from other contenders.
- Ask the right questions – Your interviewer shouldn’t be the only one asking questions. By asking questions, you show your engagement and help determine if a company has the right culture for you. Avoid basic questions (what the company does or you will do). Always be sure to ask about the culture, the office environment, and the team.
Navigate Your First 90 Days
Getting your first job is just the beginning. Though kudos are in order, it’s important to keep up the momentum and use early post-college jobs to successfully launch your career. Here’s how to make the most of your first 90 days on the job:
- Accept challenges early – Easing into a position may be tempting, but it’s better to take challenges head on. Accepting projects that stretch you beyond your core talents accelerates the time it takes to make new connections and learn vital techniques. Then, what was once foreign becomes second nature and your growth takes on a life of its own.
- Speed up your learning – Entry level employees are expected to make mistakes. Rather than letting that inhibit you for fear of being singled out, embrace it as a way of diving into new challenges. Sure, there will be some setbacks along the way, but as long as you prove you’re learning from any mistake and adapting, you’ll show you’re an asset.
- Keep a brag file – When you do well on the job, it’s critical for your bosses to know. Keep track of your achievements, accolades, and recognition so that you can bring it up during your reviews.
A Great Option for Getting a Job after College
With your first job after college, one of the most important aspects should be that it sets your career up for future success. Whether that is through name recognition or by increasing the depth of your skills, it’s important to find a place where the culture is aligned with your needs and your growth is a priority.
IDR offers opportunities for recent college graduates to become leaders and take charge of their own careers. Plus, as an employee-owned IT staffing firm, our team has a say in the decisions of our company and the direction of our growth.