You’re about to receive your degree. You’re feeling ambitious and confident, and you’re ready to look for jobs after graduation. That’s the right attitude: Launching your career after college requires equal measures of determination and positive thinking. Patience is also an essential ingredient, as it can take some time to find the right job opportunity for you.
With that in mind, here are five tips that can help you with finding a job graduation so that you can make a successful transition from college to career:
1. Get focused
A lack of focus can turn off employers and even people you network with. Think about it: Telling a hiring manager you’re “up for anything” can make it sound like you aren’t passionate or committed to anything — including the job you’re interviewing for.
That said, don’t fret if you don’t have a clear direction in mind for your post-graduation job search yet. Many new grads don’t know. You’ll likely want to look for something related to your major, so that’s a starting point for mapping out your action plan. Consider seeking input from your teachers and mentors. Consulting a career counselor at your school can also be helpful.
Once you have a career track in mind, stay up to date with the latest developments in your field by reading industry publications and websites. If you can, consider joining industry organizations and attending conferences. They’re great places to network and learn more about relevant job possibilities.
Not sure how to navigate the job market as a first-time job seeker? Prepare by reviewing these resources.
2. Tailor your approach
Applying for jobs online is easy, but that doesn’t mean your resume will automatically be directed to a hiring manager’s desk. Many firms use computer programs to help them narrow down the pool of applications to only those resumes that look the most promising based on the company’s hiring requirements.
To help increase the chances of your resume getting in front of a hiring manager, tailor it for the position you are applying for. Emphasize the experience and education that will help you stand out on the job, including internships, apprenticeships, part-time jobs, summer jobs, volunteer gigs and even positions you had as part of campus organizations.
Use terminology and keywords from the job posting in your resume wherever possible. And don’t neglect the cover letter. A well-written cover letter that explains how your qualifications make you the right fit for the job can be the thing that prompts a hiring manager to give you a phone interview.
Creating a solid resume is an essential step toward finding a job after graduation. See these seven tips.
3. Be patient and gracious
You’ll no doubt be eager to get hired and start working at your first job as soon as possible after graduation. But keep in mind that the timeline for the hiring process is different at every company.
Some firms move very quickly and call top candidates within days of receiving their resumes. Other businesses must go through numerous steps before they contact the people they want to interview. Certain companies conduct several rounds of interviews before deciding on one candidate, while others make offers after one phone call and a single in-person interview.
So, in other words, don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive an invitation to interview right away. And if the hiring manager hasn’t contacted you within a day or two of your interview to talk about the next steps in the hiring process, hang in there.
The hiring process can also take longer than you expect due to internal factors you have no way of knowing about — things like the hiring manager’s vacation, the high number of applicants, questions about the hiring budget or other business priorities that supersede the hiring of a new person.
Maintain a good attitude, and your positive energy will come through when the hiring manager finally does call.
Should you follow up after applying for a job? Read our take on this common conundrum.
4. Consider the offer — and be ready to negotiate
Once you succeed at finding a job after graduation, you may be so relieved and excited that you accept the offer immediately. But be careful not to move too fast.
A better approach when pursuing jobs after graduation is to ask the hiring manager to give you a day to consider the salary, benefits and other terms of the job offer. Depending on the details of the package, you may even decide to negotiate the offer.
Don’t be afraid to do that. In today’s competitive job market, most employers expect job candidates to negotiate compensation. Just make sure you’re armed with information before you enter a salary negotiation with a potential employer.
Consulting the latest Salary Guide from Robert Half can be a helpful starting point for researching current compensation trends. It can also provide insight on benefits and perks you may want to bring up to a hiring manager when discussing a job offer. For example, if an employer won’t budge on salary, would they be prepared to offer you additional vacation time or allow you to work a flexible schedule?
To help build up your confidence for salary negotiations, see these recommendations for new grads.
5. Set yourself up for success from the start
You may feel many things after you succeed in finding a job after graduation, from nervousness and anxiety to gratitude and joy. However you feel, you’ll want to make a great impression on your first day at your new job. Even if you’re working remotely, dress the part, get started early, listen carefully and ask thoughtful questions. In short, be prepared to position yourself for success from the get-go.
Also, as you settle into your new role, be open to learning from your colleagues and building new skills. Take advantage of career development opportunities, including mentoring arrangements. And be proactive about seeking feedback on your performance from your manager — and even your peers.
All of the above can help you thrive in this early stage of your career while building a solid foundation for future growth.
Check out these additional resources from Robert Half that can help you with finding a job after graduation:
- Top Tips on How to Prepare for an Interview
- Interview Tips to Help You Land the Job You Want
- How to Answer, ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ in a Job Interview
- How to Talk About Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview
- Behavioral Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
- How to Answer ‘What’s Your Expected Salary?’
- Video Interview Tips: A Job Candidate’s Checklist
For more insight into how to succeed at finding a job after graduation, see this post featuring some of Robert Half’s senior leaders sharing the best job search advice they have ever received.