“What’s your plans after graduation?”
The most dreaded, yet, most commonly asked question soon-to-be graduates face on the days, weeks, months leading up to graduation. This question can bring a lot of anxiety, particularly if you don’t quite know what you even want to do, let alone not having any options on the table besides moving back home with your parents.
We’ve all heard the discussions and debates about whether a college degree is worth it, how difficult it is to get a job, how entry level jobs expect you to come in with years of experience, etc etc. Especially if you didn’t get a degree in a ‘booming industry’ (Yes, pretty much all of us have probably asked ourselves why we didn’t get a degree in IT at some point). I have a Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Applied Psychology. Post-graduation conversations after both degrees consisted of naysayers and negativity, constant reminders of the pisspoor job market, and just overall nonsupportive dialogue.
I refused to accept this ‘joblessness’ and ‘dead end job’ cycle as my reality. And you don’t have to accept that as your reality either. After undergrad, I accepted a position in my field less than 90 days after graduation. After grad school, I started a new position the week before graduation. Here are some tips on how to secure a job in your field before Sallie Mae starts blowing you up.
*Note – is this a foolproof method? Nah. “Applying for jobs is a job in itself” is a very valid statement. But if you’re like me, you’ll be ready to take on that second job to get what you desire.*
- Start looking at jobs 6-9 months before graduation. Pay attention to the agencies and companies that are hiring for positions you may be interested in and qualified for. Bookmark the company website and check back often, particularly the closer you get to graduation. Companies do not always post their available positions on job search websites. And if you’re new to the workforce, you probably don’t know every company in your field in your area. Keeping track of potential employers is helpful when you start applying for jobs and you’ve exhausted al of the Job Boards.
- Apply for 5-7 jobs a day. Yes, every single day. I started doing this about 2-3 months prior to graduation. Jobs are not just going to fall in your lap. If you’re not constantly putting your resume out there and marketing yourself, you can’t be mad when the 1 or 2 jobs you applied for didn’t work out. It’s time consuming, YES. No doubt about it. Sometimes, you’ll feel like you applied to every job posting you saw. Which is where the first tip comes into play! What’s on the job boards may be different than what’s actually on your potential employers Career section of their website! I made it a mission that I wouldn’t go out until I know I applied for at least 5 jobs a day.
- Disregard the ‘years of experience’ in the job description. These education and experience ‘requirements’ are more so for the ‘ideal candidate’ that they’re looking for. That DOES NOT mean that if you don’t have 12343 years experience they won’t even look at your application. If nobody that fits the mold of their ‘ideal candidate’ applies, they’ll then start looking at everyone else’s application. My first job out of undergrad, the job description said you needed a Bachelors degree and 3-4 years of experience. All I had was a Bachelors and a month of volunteer experience related to the job. When I got there, only 3 of us had a Bachelors and everyone else just had their HS Diploma! Shoot your shot! Unless it’s requiring that you have a specific license or certification (don’t be out here applying for attorney positions with your Bachelors in Political Science, now), SHOOT YOUR SHOT!!!
- Don’t be afraid to expand the radius of where you’re applying. If you live in a town where the job industry in your field isn’t booming, look into jobs a little further out. Yes, your commute might suck. But I’d rather take 3 trains to get to work everyday and gain experience in my field and also making a decent wage, then to settle for working at Wawa across the street from my house letting all that hard work I put into my education go to waste. You don’t have to do it forever. Just get your foot in the door, gain the experience you need to get a better, closer job down the line. Get out of your comfort zone! When you force yourself to get out of your comfort zone, you open the doors to a whole new slew of opportunities. Short term sacrifices for long term benefits.
Did any of these work for you? What are some other tips/tricks you used to make sure you were employed right out of school? Let me know in the comments!