So you’ve managed to navigate college amidst a global pandemic, and now you’ve graduated. Congratulations! That was no easy feat for you to accomplish, no doubt. Hello masks 24/7, frequent Covid testing, and virtual classes. This year brought unique challenges into your life and now you’ve got a job search ahead of you. Not just any job search, but a job search amidst a pandemic. Thankfully, employment rates increased to 57.90 percent in April 2021 from 52% in April of 2020, so we’re headed in a positive direction. Numbers aside, the past year has changed the landscape for job seekers and professionals. Read on for tips on how to navigate this unique job market as a freshly graduated college student.
1. Define what you want.
Do you know what you want in a job? At a company? After working at multiple universities with college students, I know many college students struggle to define what they really want in a job — and that’s ok. You are in an exploratory stage of life. You might have ideas of what you want, but really what you need is experience. However, saying “I don’t know what I want” to an employer isn’t as marketable as honing in on a few specific areas of expertise. The more specific you are with an employer about what you want in a job, the more an employer can understand the value you bring. If you’re thinking to yourself, “ok, this all sounds great, but I still don’t know what I want!” I recommend considering working with a career coach like myself to help you define your strengths, value, and interests. Speaking as a college student who really needed clarity myself… trust me when I say, it’s worth your investment! Amidst a competitive job market, this step can be a real game changer.
2. Prove your worth.
Do you know what you have to offer a company and job? Your resume and network might rave about you, but that’s not enough to land a job. Sure, an impressive resume and LinkedIn profile will land you an interview, but that’s only the first step of a job search. During an interview, you need to communicate your value to employers. Tell them how you can solve their problems and help their company move forward. Afterall, a company hires new people to help them solve problems and propel them forward – not just to fill an empty chair at an office. I highly recommend evaluating your interview skills and learning to communicate your worth with confidence.
Yes, job applications are important during the job search. But as important is networking. What is networking exactly? Networking means you are having career-related conversations with individuals who you already know – and individuals who you haven’t met yet. These are people you find through LinkedIn and reach out to asking for a conversation to discuss their company, career path, and current job. Trust me when I say – networking is the most valuable thing you can do in your career. In today’s landscape, networking conversations are landing 85% of jobs. Did you hear that?! EIGHTY-FIVE percent of jobs are landed through conversations with people. Not job boards. Not career fairs. Networking! If you’re looking for some tips and advice on how to network, what questions to ask, and who to reach out to – check out my networking guide where I spill the tea on how to build connections!
4. Contact Your University’s Career Center.
Did you know there are professionals at your university who are dedicated to helping college students land jobs? Every career center looks different depending on your university, however, most colleges have this resource available… and for free. Before losing momentum, I highly recommend contacting your university’s career center to see what resources they have available for your job search.
5. Update Your Resume, Cover Letter, & LinkedIn Profile.
Last but not least, make sure your job search tool-kit is up-to-date. Not only updated, but perfect. This means no typos or errors, and the documents should reflect your unique brand and clearly share how you can add value to a company and the position you are applying to. Every resume and cover letter should look different depending on the job you are applying to. Avoid the “confetti” job search method where you throw your resume aimlessly towards every job opening. Be strategic, apply to fewer jobs – and I promise your phone will start ringing.
6. Use Online Companies like Harbor Career Solutions.
Sometimes, I am skeptical of applying to online jobs that applicants find on the job boards like Indeed or Monster. As I said above, most people find jobs through networking. BUT, let’s be honest, the online job portals do offer a huge volume of potential opportunities that you might not have even thought about. You should be reading the job descriptions to see what speaks to you to help you brainstorm on what you want (see 1 above!). Though it can seem like you’re applying to a black hole and that you never hear back from the employers, applying online can work – after all, companies are paying the job boards to list their jobs, which means they see value in receiving applications from these sources. Additionally, as my friends at Harbor Career Solutions say, you can’t get a job unless you apply, so might as well submit the resume.
Now, a word of caution: Applying online is necessary, BUT NOT SUFFICIENT. The key here is that you should be applying to jobs but not losing sight of the other things you need to be doing to get a job! If you spend an hour a day working on your job search, you can’t just submit applications online for an hour and pat yourself on your back that you’ve done what you needed. Instead, you can use Harbor’s application submission services to have them submit the applications for you – so you don’t spend your time applying to the black hole and, instead, can spend that hour more efficiently networking on LinkedIn, researching, working on your “story” or improving your resume, etc.
There you have it!
6 Steps to kick-start your job search after graduation. Most of all – give yourself a pat on the back for enduring a year of unknowns and finishing college in an incredibly unique climate. I’m sure you’ve learned so many valuable lessons this past year that will be incredibly valuable to a future employer. Good luck!
Cheering you on,