Reliable Ways To Secure A Good Job After College:
Whether you’re a fresh graduate or someone who’s been in the job market for years – job hunting is tough. Have you tried rethinking your approach to finding a job?
There’s no denying it – searching for jobs really is a full-time job in itself and, alas, it doesn’t get much easier as you get older.
Feeling a bit like you’re going round in circles and getting nowhere with it? Sometimes, it can be helpful to take a step back and really think about your approach before bashing out the job applications.
Taking a different angle can give you a fresh boost of confidence if you’re feeling in a rut, and hopefully find you that job opportunity you’ve been searching for.
Our main word of advice to job searchers is this: don’t just think in terms of ticking the boxes and meeting the criteria that an employer is looking for.
Applying for jobs is about really selling yourself to a potential employer – why should they pick you over other applicants? Think about how you can stand out from the crowd.
This is often overlooked by students who search for jobs by dropping impersonal CVs and cover letters into high street retail stores and bars.
How you handle the application process is a reflection of the kind of employee you are: come across like you’re not putting the effort in at this stage of the game, and it won’t impress anyone.
Also, try not to let failed applications knock your confidence too much. Remember the theory of ‘survival of the fittest‘ in secondary school? Well, this applies to the job market too.
Those who are willing to mutate (in approach) and take each rejection letter like water off a duck’s back are likely to succeed. Keep reminding yourself of this!
To get you started on your whole new, smarter approach to job hunting, here are ten tips that you may never have thought of when attempting to nail that student or graduate job application.
- Try online networking
Get plugged into career networking sites like LinkedIn. You might think this is a step ahead of yourself if you’re still studying, but it actually looks great to employers if you’re already keen to know what’s going on in the job market before you’ve even graduated.
Join discussion groups for industries you’re interested in and start building your social network to keep in the loop for the latest job offers.
Following companies that you like and commenting on their posts is also a great way to get noticed, although remember to keep your comments professional, and save the rants for Facebook.
Note that it’s also bad etiquette to add anyone on LinkedIn who you don’t already know, so going on a mad connection-adding spree won’t work in your favour. Check out our guide to using LinkedIn to find a job and you’ll nail this bit.
2. Talk to friends and family
- Staff referral is one of the most popular methods used for recruitment by employers, as companies often prefer to hire someone who their trusted employees can vouch for.Take advantage of this by asking around friends and family who work in industries you’d like to explore. This can often result in you finding out about vacancies before the competition does, and instantly puts you at an advantage if someone can recommend you.
- Go beyond job listings
- Sometimes sticking to job listings isn’t the best way to move forward.Focusing on specific companies rather than vacancies can work in your favour, as when you move on to the application process, you’ll already have an interest in the company. That should shine through in what you say, as opposed to just submitting an application because there’s a job up for grabs.Keep an eye on job listings, of course, but if you see a few positions going at a great company and none of the roles are suitable for you, send them a CV and cover letter anyway (remember: sell yourself!).If a company is posting more than one vacancy at once, it’s a sign that they’re expanding. This means it’s the perfect time to make yourself known to them and show them what you’ve got.
Expand your search (and your mind):
Particularly thanks to technology, the job market is constantly evolving at such a pace that there are heaps of jobs out there that you’ve probably never even heard of – and that didn’t exist back when you were speaking to your careers counsellor at school.
For example, do you know what a UX designer is? How about a Content Marketer, a Backend Developer or a Growth Hacker? It’s worth putting some research into this, as you might find that once you get past the unfamiliar names, these are roles you’d be interested in trying out.
Choosing to go down a less traditional career path can also mean less competition, and you might find there are more opportunities available if you expand your horizons and start looking at more niche positions.
Be confident and personable:
As we mentioned earlier, how you handle the application process will give potential employers an idea of the kind of worker you are.
For example, someone who takes initiative by emailing a senior member of staff to ask for a coffee will give off a much more positive, go-getter impression than someone who just sends in a flat CV and copy/pasted cover letter.
However, make sure that if you go for this option you do some serious research about the company before you make your move. You don’t want to be caught out as not really understanding who the company are and what they do, as it would make all your effort go to nothing.
Of course, we’re not suggesting you barge into an office asking for work, but just asking to speak to someone from HR so you can tell them how amazing you think the company is will get you some serious gold stars next to your CV.
The chances are, you’ll stand out in their memory when they reach the decision-making stage.
Work for your university:
There are hundreds of part-time jobs on campus for students, including bar work, events work, admin jobs and giving guided tours to prospective students.
With decent pay and hours (as well as usually being quite close to your dorm room and your lecture theatres), these jobs are gold dust.
It also helps that the university already know you, so are likely to be able to provide a glowing reference when you look for work after uni. Our advice would be to apply early, as these jobs tend to disappear quickly.
Try an internship:
This is a particularly good option if you’re taking our suggestion from tip number four on board and trying out some unchartered territory within the job market.
If a position is unfamiliar, it’s important you get a chance to try it out before you decide if it’s for you.
At Save the Student, we’re against unpaid internships as we’re of the belief that no one should have to work for free, but use your own judgement on this one.
If you think you’d benefit from getting a bit of work experience before deciding if a certain career is the right path for you, maybe offering to do a month unpaid at a nice company would work well. Should you go for a position without a salary, check out our guide to surviving in an unpaid internship.
However, know your rights when it comes to internships, as unfortunately, some companies will take advantage of young people looking to kick-start their career by making them work a full-time position without paying up.
Paid internships are really common these days. Although they don’t pay much, you’ll pick up invaluable skills, experience, and contacts relating directly to your preferred business and industry that will be extremely useful later.
Either that, or if the position goes particularly well, you might even get a job out of it!
Try a recruitment agency
Finding work through a recruitment agency can be a good choice, particularly if you find the whole idea of selling yourself particularly tough – recruiters are paid to do that bit for you!
Recruitment agencies regularly and actively search for work on your behalf, so this, of course, can lighten the burden a bit if you’re finding trawling for jobs particularly tiresome, and it can bag you a job quicker than expected.
However, while there are big positives, do be aware that temp work sourced by recruitment agencies can often involve a whole lot of licking envelopes for minimum wage, and nothing more inspiring.
Agency work for students tends to be poorly paid, often pretty boring and (depending on the job) lacking in long-term security and prospects.
Check out careers fairs:
Careers and graduate fairs aren’t just about the freebies (although these are always a welcome perk!).
These fairs are a fantastic opportunity to meet and talk directly to big-time employers and recruiters. Remember, they’ve paid for the stall they’re standing at for the sole purpose of speaking to job-seekers like you, so take advantage of being in this rare position.
Make the most of the opportunity to network and be informed about application processes and chances.
Also, don’t forget to take a notepad – take down the names, positions and email addresses of the people you talk to and send them a follow-up email afterwards (just a quick ‘hello’ to say how nice it was to meet them and get you on their radar!).
Become your own boss:
Many students and graduates often feel discouraged from starting their own business due to risk or the lack of security it offers.
Although becoming your own boss can seem like a scary move, if you have a big idea and the motivation to push it then this could be the smartest move you ever make.
Our Head Honcho, Owen, began Save the Student as his own business venture while he was still studying for his Geography degree and never looked back (read more about Save the Student’s story here).
There are a growing number of organisations and websites designed specifically to help young entrepreneurs succeed in business. Check out our guide to raising capital for your startup for tips on getting a business off the ground.
If after the first year you decide it’s not for you, then that’s something valuable you’ve learned for life and (hopefully) you’ll have no regrets in having tried. It will also look amazing on your CV.
Of course, you should keep up your assault on more traditional methods of finding a job: you never know where an opportunity might come from. The point of this article is to get you thinking deeper and wider in your job search.
There’s no harm in submitting your details to job sites with specifics about the kind of positions you’re interested in. The sites will then send you email notifications when something that meets your criteria comes up.
It’s worth signing up to a few of these so you don’t miss any great opportunities, but do be aware that this can then result in your inbox taking a serious hit!
For more information on which job sites to hit up, check out our article on student job websites. Also, try to stay away from unregulated websites like Gumtree, which often list a host of misleading and sometimes dangerous job ‘opportunities’ (especially for women).
Always be on your guard against scam opportunities and remember that your safety is way more important than finding a job. If it sounds too good to be true…
Can’t Find a Job After College? 5 Ways to Get a Good Job
It’s common to have difficulty finding a job in your field (or sometimes any job) after graduating.
So if you have no job after college, whether you just graduated or have been searching for 1-2 years, don’t feel bad. You’re NOT alone.
And there are a couple of great ways to get a job after college that I’ll share in this article.
Follow these steps to boost your chances of landing a good job after graduation.
1. Network as Much as Possible
One of the common themes I’ve seen after talking to many people with no job after college is that they applied only online and didn’t build/use their network.
Now you might not have a very big network, that’s okay. When I graduated I had done almost zero network and felt totally unprepared to job search.
Networking and having direct conversations is still a valuable tactic to use as much as you can.
Even if you have no existing network right now, you can talk to your academic advisors and former professors.
Talk to classmates and friends, too.
Tell your parents and family you’re job searching (and what you’re looking for) so that they can tell their colleagues. If people don’t know you’re job hunting, they can’t help you.
If you want detailed steps on how to build your network (including by “cold” messaging people who you think could introduce you to great companies), I wrote a full article on why networking is the fastest way to find a job.
The bottom line is: if you’re not making the most of the people you know, and taking steps to meet new people and grow your network, you’re leaving a BIG opportunity on the table.
And it’s never too late to start this. Whether you’re 22 or 52, you should start networking this year, and you’ll be glad you did in the future.
Types of people you can network with and ask for help in finding a job
- Friends/classmates from school
- Family members
- Family members of good friends
- Former college professors and academic advisors
- Former managers/bosses from any internships or part-time jobs you’ve held
Ways to meet new people to grow your network after graduation
- Go to local meetups related to the industry you are interested in. Meetup.com and Facebook groups are great ways to find these events.
- Contact people on LinkedIn and ask a question about their experience working for their employer (explain that you’re job searching and curious what the work environment is like). Word-for-word example of a message can be found here.
- Ask people in your current network if there’s anyone they can refer you to. Find out if they know anyone who would be valuable for you to speak with in your job hunt.
How to ask your network for help finding a job after college
If you’re very close with somebody, you can contact them and immediately ask for help. “Hey, did you used to work for XYZ Company? I’m interested in finding an entry-level job there and was wondering if you still have any connections there?”
However, if you’re approaching somebody you aren’t very close with… such as a friend from university that you had a few classes with but have only known for one year, you want to be more casual.
Ask them a question like, “do you have any advice for trying to get my resume in front of companies like XYZ Company?”
If they can help, they often will, and this sounds a lot better than asking for a favor right away.
Try to help them too, if you can. Ask if they need any help finding jobs as well. This will make them want to help you more.
After an initial question, you can ask them more directly for help if they don’t realize what you’re asking for. But it’s better to start with a much “softer” question.
2. Apply Directly to Growth-Stage Companies
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of companies out there require experience, and won’t hire someone who is entry-level. Very frustrating, right?
However, there’s one type of company that typically LOVES to hire entry level people.
Fast-growing, new companies. Growth-stage companies.
By applying to growth-stage companies, you multiply the chance that they’re looking for entry level people.
Fast-growing companies often like to train people and promote from within as they build their company culture and expand their operations.
You also greatly increase the chance you’ll be selected in the interview, because they’re often hiring multiple people at the same time, for the same role. Would you rather interview with 10 other people for one open position? Or interview with 10 other people for six open positions? The choice is pretty obvious.
Because of this, applying directly to fast-growing companies is one of my 3 best methods to find a job right now, especially for recent graduates who haven’t found a job after college.
3. Apply Directly for Jobs on LinkedIn
The two methods are above are what I’d recommend for the best ways to find a job after college, or at least where you should start.
However, you might not have much of a network, or maybe you don’t want to work in a growth-stage company or startup.
So you can also try to apply directly to companies on LinkedIn.
I find this to be better than other big job boards because you can often apply directly through LinkedIn’s Easy Apply feature, without leaving the website. Just attach your resume and hit “send” and you’re done.
This method lets you avoid having to create an account on multiple sites, and avoid having to fill in personal details over and over which is a huge waste of time.
And if you think you’re “missing out” by not sending a cover letter, read this. Cover letters aren’t as necessary as you may think when applying online.
4. Improve your Interview Skills
Think about this for a second – when you go into the interview, the hiring manager has never seen you work a single day in your life.
So they’re deciding whether to hire entirely based on what you say.
This is the power of interview skills. What you say in the interview has the power to get you hired for the top, highest-paying jobs out there.
Or if you’re making interview mistakes, employers won’t give you a chance to show what you’re capable of. It could definitely be the reason you have no job after college.
The bottom line is building great interview skills can change your career and allow you to get the best jobs.
If you learn how to give great interview answers, and discover what employers want to hear, you’ll have a massive advantage every time you change positions and earn far more money in your career.
You can find all of our free job interview resources here.
5. Consider Relocating
If you did well in school, picked a great major or field of study, and still can’t find a job, it might be your location.
Some regions just don’t have many job opportunities.
If you think your location is holding you back, and your personal life allows for it, consider relocating.
Different regions have “clusters” of companies from certain industries (for example, I used to recruit for Biotech companies, and they’re clustered in San Francisco, Boston, New Jersey, Maryland, and a few other cities).
Yes, you can find a biotech company out in Indiana.
But it’s going to be more difficult to get hired, and you’ll be stuck with that one employer for 20-30 years unless you relocate in the future. Not good.
(And if I’ve seen one thing as a recruiter, the best way to keep your salary LOW is to stay with one employer for 20+ years.)
So if I’ve convinced you to consider relocating, here are some steps you can take right now:
- Decide what industry you want to work in most
- Do your research and figure out where the “clusters” are located for this industry. What cities or regions are most of the companies located in?
- Once you have a list of the biggest cities/regions for your industry, pick the most attractive one or two regions based on personal factors – proximity to friends and family, cost of living, climate, or anything else you care about! Think about where you’d actually like to live.
- Prepare your resume for an out-of-state job search
- Start applying for jobs in this new city or state
If you can’t relocate, consider looking for remote positions, too. Remote work is on the rise and there will be more opportunities for this each coming year.
Repeat and Adjust
Job searching isn’t an exact science. The steps above should help you find a job after college, but you may need to test a few things, make adjustments, etc.
If you send some “cold” messages on LinkedIn and don’t get any replies, change the script.
If you go on four interviews and don’t get any callbacks, it’s time to work on your interview skills more and figure out where you’re making mistakes.
And things don’t happen overnight. You need to apply for a lot of jobs and keep your effort going.
But if you try these steps, make adjustments and improve, you WILL find a job after college.
Good luck and I hope this article gave you new hope, motivation and most importantly – a game plan that you’re ready to move forward with in your job search.
How to Finally Get Hired if You Can’t Find a Job After College – Quick Review:
If you read the steps above, you now know some potential tactics to try if you have no job after graduating. Those steps are:
- Use your network whenever possible. Always try to get introduced to a company.
- Apply directly to companies on their website when you can, and look for growth-stage companies because they hire more entry-level people.
- Try applying on LinkedIn to avoid the hassle of having to register an account on multiple job sites or company “Career” pages.
- Improve your interview skills so that you’re able to take advantage each time you get an interview.
- Consider relocating or remote work to expand your job opportunities.
If you follow the steps above, you’ll boost your odds of getting hired, whether you just graduated or are one, two, or even three years after graduation with no job.
Most importantly, don’t give up. You only need one good job offer, and with the tactics above, that can happen in a matter of weeks.