Finding a job after college can be a challenge, especially in this economy. It seems like the "perfect fit" candidate is all employers are looking for these days, which can make finding a job difficult for new grads with little to no real-world experience.
So, how can recent grads break into the workforce?
Here are seven tips from our approved career experts on finding a job after college.
1. Showcase Your Skills
Debra Wheatman of Careers Done Write suggests listing leadership roles that you held in clubs or other activities that demonstrate your practical skills. "You might also want to pursue an internship now," she says. "This will enhance your resume, contribute to professional experience, and also help to build your network."
2. Make A Job-Specific Resume
"As a new college grad, it's vital that your resume make the most of the experience you do have," says Cheryl Simpson of Executive Resume Rescue. Simpson suggests bolstering your resume by including more keywords, better descriptions of your achievements to date, and relevant project assignments. That way, you can emphasize your transferable skills to prospective employers.
"As long as the jobs you're applying for are relevant to your major, chances are good that you're qualified for entry-level jobs," says Rachel Dotson of ZipRecruiter. "The most likely culprit, then, is that you're having a hard time communicating how your skills and experience make you qualified for a given position."
Dotson suggests going through your resume and cover letter and asking yourself, line by line, whether each point supports the requirements for the job you're applying to. You can also get industry-specific advice for your application materials at your campus career center and, better yet, from former internship advisors and those currently in your desired field.
Lisa Adams of Fresh Air Careers suggests asking yourself the following questions:
- How are you presenting yourself on your resume and LinkedIn profile?
- Are you not showing your value and differentiators?
- What kind of work experience have you obtained during your college years?
3. Modify Your Job Search
"A by-product of the bad economy is a serious bias for work experience and the 'perfect fit,'" says Dorothy Tannahill-Moran of Next Chapter New Life. "This doesn't mean the time and work you put into your degree was a waste. It means it's not enough." In this case, she suggests modifying your job search by looking into staffing agencies, internships, and volunteer positions as a means of getting some of the work experience you need.
"Employers right now are risk adverse," Tannahill-Moran says. "They only want to hire people they know have work ethics (which is something they don't want to train someone in) and have developed the skills to do the work (to reduce cost associated with training)."
4. Look Somewhere New
"Maybe you're looking in the wrong place," says Kathy Ver Eecke of Working For Wonka. The stats are clear; most new jobs are found with startups. Almost 85% of startups say they'll hire in the next 12 months; close to 10% will hire more than 10 employees!
"The good news for recent grads is that startups hire for mindset over skill set every time," she says. "You'll get the job faster armed with passion and enthusiasm for the product over having a resume filled with applicable experience. It sounds counterintuitive, but it's just the way startups roll."
She suggests taking the following steps:
- Find a fast-growing new company with a product or service you think is great
- Tell the founder of the company how much you love it
- Offer your time for free (if you can't get a paid position)
- Make yourself indispensable
"At a startup, every set of hands, every available brain, gets a good workout," she says. "You'd be surprised what they'll let you do. If ultimately they can't hire you, you'll walk away with the resume boost you were looking for."
5. Go For Unpaid Internships
"Being unpaid doesn't mean it's not valid work experience," says Jenny Yerrick Martin of Your Industry Insider. "And if you don't have unpaid work on your resume and can't get hired, offer to work unpaid for entrepreneurs or small businesses in your field and/or volunteer at events for your industry. That adds experience to your resume and allows you to network and prove yourself to people who could hire you."
6. Never Stop Learning
"Don't let graduation be the end of your learning," says Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR. "Start reading books, industry blogs and magazines, and so on to keep yourself up to date on the latest and greatest in your field." Eubanks suggests finding a local nonprofit and volunteer your time in a way that you can add the experience to your resume.
"If you only walk away with one thing, let it be this: you are the only one who can change this," he says. "Hoping that a hiring manager will lower the bar or 'just give you a chance' isn't the answer; making yourself a more knowledgeable and attractive candidate is the only thing you can count on."
7. Don't Give Up
"Network, network, network, and keep looking," says career coach Arleen Bradley. "Apply for internships in your field and particularly in companies where you want to work. Volunteering your time doing what you want to do for a career equals experience."
We hope these seven tips will help you find your first job after college. It's competitive out there, but you can do it. You're more qualified than you think you are!
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.