Cover Letter

11 Job Search Commandments For College Grads

Group of college students celebrate their graduation

I love working with recent grads in their job search. After 12 years in school, they are experts at learning—which makes teaching them easier. They're like sponges. They learn and do. They have no bad job search habits, so teaching them is fun because I get to see their reaction when they get positive results for the first time.

The difficult part? The job search for recent college grads stinks right now.

I already knew things were bad. I deal with it on a regular basis when helping new grads find jobs. In fact, I can read their minds. That's because, after graduation, there are four things that make graduates really, really mad. My job is to help them get past the anger and get hired.

If you know a recent college grad, please pass these 11 job search commandments on to them. If you are a recent college grad, take notes. These commandments are laws to live by in the next six months as you embark on your next big challenge: landing a job.

1. I Will Not Compare Myself To My Friends

Young professional at his first job out of college


No two graduates are the same. Each has different skills, abilities, needs, and wants. Just because your friend gets a new job doesn't mean they are better than you. Keep the blinders on and focus on your job search, not theirs.

Jealousy is a useless emotion that derails a job search. Besides, your friend might be able to help you get a job. It's in your best interest to be genuinely happy for them!

2. I Will Not Take The Summer Off

Young woman on phone conducts a job search in the summer after college


Don't delay your job search. Employers see it as acting entitled and lazy. Get in gear—right now! Trust me, you aren't going to find a job in the next two weeks. And job search isn't a full-time gig.

Carve out time every day to work on your job search and you'll still have plenty of time to enjoy the summer. Before the temperature cools down, turn your job search success up! It's about working smarter, not harder.

3. I Will Not Spend Weeks Designing My Resume

College student / young professional on laptop stresses about writing his resume


Your resume isn't going to get you the job. Networking is.

Don't waste time trying to make your resume perfect. At this stage in your career, there just isn't that much you can put on it to impress employers. The "wow" factor will come from you being smart, articulate, and engaging—which doesn't come through on paper. You have to meet people to make that happen.

4. I Will Learn To Network...Fast!

Group of interns / young professionals networking/meeting at work


Networking is the most powerful way to get hired. Yet most recent grads assume because they've never worked they have no one to network with. Wrong!

People love helping recent grads. Learn to "informational interview" and set up as many as you can. The sooner you learn to network, the sooner you get hired.

5. I Will Not Expect Too Much Of My First Job

Recent college grad on her first day at a new job


Most recent college grads feel they're overqualified for many of the entry-level jobs posted. However, most employers feel you're not, and may even have unrealistic expectations for an entry-level position.

The hard reality is you don't have the work experience for anything but entry-level jobs. The sooner you take an entry-level job and work at it for six months, the sooner you can start applying to the more exciting jobs that are currently out of your reach.

6. I Will Remember That EVERY Job Is Temporary

Young professional thinks about the job search after college


While the entry-level job you take will not be your dream job, that's okay because you won't be there very long. You'll either excel in the job and get promoted or get experience and be able to apply for a better job.

"Every job is temporary," is one of our mantras at Work It DAILY, which is why you always have to improve and work on your career every day. Whether you're looking for your first job or a new one, you need to keep that mindset. It will pay off, we promise.

7. I Will Study Up On Workplace Professionalism As Much As I Can

Recent college grad goes in for a job interview and shakes hands with the hiring manager


The number one complaint corporate America has about recent grads is their perceived lack of professionalism. Read up on attire, attitude, verbal communication style, and so on. The more prepared you are, the better the first impression you'll make.

8. I Will Be Very Careful In My Written Communication Style

Recent college grad applies for jobs online


The number two complaint corporate America has about recent grads is their poor written communication skills. Spelling, grammar, and so on.

Be very careful when writing cover letters, emails, and any other written communication related to your job search. One typo can get you disqualified!

9. I Will Expect Rejection (A Lot Of It)

Recent college grad gets a job rejection and is stressed about her job search


You'll apply to dozens of jobs and have as many as 10 interviews before getting an offer. There is a learning curve to getting hired, and it happens with practice.

Expect to get passed over for jobs and learn to cope with the rejection. The sooner you can pick yourself up and get back to the job search, the sooner you'll get another interview and eventually an offer.

10. I Will Become A “Professional" User Of Social Media

Group of college students on their phones looking at social media


For the last four years, social media has been used for your enjoyment. Now, it's time to use it for your job search.

Clean up the Facebook page and Instagram account, get yourself set up on LinkedIn, and study how people are using TikTok to meet hiring managers. Use social media to build an online presence that when searched by a recruiter (and trust us, they will look you up online), what they'll find is a recent grad who's clearly ready to enter the workforce.

A strong social media presence can literally land you a job interview. Engage in best practices for social media to advance your career.

11. I Will Not Brag About My New Job When I Finally Get It

Young professional on phone and laptop finds out she got a job after college


Getting your first job will be thrilling. I mean over-the-top incredible. That being said, refrain from posting the good news all over the internet and making it your first topic of conversation with friends. Why? Go back to commandment number one.

Remember: You'll be surrounded by people who haven't gotten their first job and will be jealous. Be the bigger person and keep a low profile on the new gig. Of course, if asked, you can share the good news, but do your best to redirect the conversation after that.

Show how humble you are. You just never know at some future date that person could remember your gracious attitude and be willing to help you get your next job because of it. The friends you make now will be the colleagues you network with in the future. Treat them kindly and it will pay off in the long run.

Follow the commandments above and your job search will be less painful and more effective. And keep this list handy as a reminder you will make it through. You can do this!

Need Help Landing Your First Job Out Of College?

Download the My First Job Workbook to learn how to use your personality and passion to get hired. It's the best free resource you'll use in your job search—and the only one you need to land your first job.

Man on laptop enjoys summer while working full time

There you are: sitting on the beach, covered in sunscreen, reading your favorite book, drinking your favorite drink under the cool shade of an umbrella. Life doesn't get any better than this. Suddenly, a door slams, a phone rings, a printer turns on. You jolt back into consciousness. You're at work, sitting in your cubicle, without even a hint of sunshine streaming in from outside.

Read moreShow less