With an average of $37,574 in loans per student, today’s college students are no stranger to anxiety around finding a job after graduation. Aside from stresses like student loan debt, recent college graduates are hard-pressed to find a job in a suffering economy.
Luckily, there are a few strategies college students can take advantage of to prepare for the upcoming job hunt. While none of these strategies is a guarantee that you’ll get hired right out of college, they’ll certainly increase your odds:
Get Involved Early
While learning in the classroom is obviously a huge part of college, the social aspect is just as important. Whether you’re involved in Greek life, volunteer organizations, cultural clubs, or professional internship, studying time is a great opportunity for making friends in college and social networking.
Because college is full of mentors who typically have many accomplishments under their belt, it’s the perfect setting to make connections. Involvement in Greek organizations allows you to make connections with your fellow college students and the alumni network, where you’ll oftentimes find professional connections.
Speaking of professional connections, internships are a fantastic way to get involved in professional circles before graduation. Depending on your interests, you can get your foot in the door in just a few months of grunt work. Your work ethic and attitude during an internship often lead to lasting impressions on those in the company. Even if they don’t offer a job after graduation, they’re sure to be a positive reference for future jobs.
Check out more info and our great lists of internships for first-year college students, internships for graduate students, architecture internships, psychology internships, art internships, medical internships, and nursing internships.
Choose an In-Demand Major
This next rule isn’t the end-all-be-all, but it is something to take into account during your college journey. Though degrees in liberal arts can be more versatile, STEM majors statistically make more money after graduation.
But the potential to make a lot of money still doesn’t guarantee a job out of college. In fact, the major with the highest unemployment rate is petroleum engineering (a STEM major), while the lowest unemployment rate falls under international relations majors.
There are niche fields in both STEM and liberal arts majors that offer jobs, but job availability upon graduation will fluctuate. To be competitive in the job market after college, just keep an eye on what careers have projected growth.
Keep Options Open
While majors that are specific to a certain job field can better secure you a job in that area after college, sometimes that specialization works against you. With broader degrees like business or communications, you can market your skills to a broader range of jobs after graduation.
So the key takeaway is: be prepared to adapt your skillset to multiple career pathways. You may not get your first-choice job right out of college, but you should have the versatility to find a job that will serve as a steppingstone to something better.
Keep your options open by broadening your job search. Don’t limit yourself to one job title in just one city close to you. As the saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” Indeed, the job search after college can feel like begging. In reality, you’ll just need to keep yourself open to opportunities and apply to jobs you may have not considered before. Whether you end up hating the job or loving it, that experience will guide your future career and help you market yourself to your next employer.
Tweak Your Resume
Leading up to graduation, you might be applying to dozens of jobs. Even after graduation, you might be constantly on the lookout for a job. It’s tempting to use one basic college student’s resume for all of those job applications simply because it would take so long to adjust your resume for each job listing.
But tweaking your resume might just be the factor that sets you apart from your competitors for that job. By pulling keywords from the job listing on your company website and scattering them throughout your resume, companies’ algorithms will automatically pull your resume up to the top of the stack.
In other words, a few extra minutes on these details could land you an interview while other applicants sit on the sidelines. Potential employers will notice that your resume’s essential skills match their unique job description, even if they don’t select their candidates through an algorithm. In the post-grad job search, a small advantage is better than no advantage. And for sure, don’t forget to rehearse the interview (read our article about first job interview questions and how to answer them)
Keep Up With Job Postings
Finally, the most obvious tip for getting a job after college is keeping up with the latest job postings. This may sound simple, but great opportunities are usually snatched up quickly. Make sure you have automatic notifications for sites when new job listings are posted and tag keywords.
On top of those automatic notifications, make sure you’re manually checking for new jobs every day, too. Depending on the field you’re interested in, new listings can be taken down within a day.
Outside of the internet, don’t forget that real-life interaction go a long way. If you interned with a company your freshman year of college, it might be worth an in-person trip back that office to see what opportunities are available. Oftentimes, you’ll hear about jobs through word of mouth that doesn’t have the proper advertising online just yet.
Finding a job after college can be extremely stressful, especially when prices are getting higher and pay isn’t changing a whole lot. To secure a job after graduation, you’ll need to tailor your resume to each job you apply to (or at least the jobs you really want), stay on top of job listings, broaden your job search, and take advantage of connections you made in college.
If you’re currently a college student, there are a couple of steps you can take to prepare for the job search. Make sure you pick a major that you’re interested in that can also lead to in-demand jobs. Oftentimes, this will be a job in a STEM field. Also, take advantage of college as an opportunity for networking. Internships now can land you a job right after graduation.
Above all, don’t give up! Every success and failure is a learning experience, and that doesn’t change once you cross that stage.
Check out our 5 tips on how to make money while job hunting after college and the article on what to do after college. Both are quite helpful for college students and college graduates looking for extra opportunities.