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A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding a Job After College

Finding a job after college can feel daunting. Grace College is here to help you with what to do after you graduate college. Learn more today

Your senior year of college can be a stressful time. You’re likely taking harder classes and completing senior projects. But you’re also most likely working, participating in extracurriculars, and attending campus events. Thinking about what to do after you graduate college feels like one more thing you have to work into your busy schedule. You might be uncertain about when you should start looking for a job, how to look for a job, or even what type of job you want. With all this confusion, you can easily become overwhelmed about finding a job after college. But don’t worry; just take the job search process one step at a time.


1. Research jobs and careers that interest you.

If you’re not sure what careers fit your interests, take career assessments such as the PathwayU assessment. PathwayU matches job titles to your profile and shows you specific job listings for those titles. You can also talk to your professors, your academic advisor, and the Center for Career Connections to learn what types of jobs people with your major pursue.


2. Develop a job search strategy.

In order to make the best use of your time, it’s important to develop a job search strategy to determine how you will go about finding a job after college. When creating your job search strategy, you should include a timeline for when you will complete each step of the process. Spend time researching when people in your field are hired. Do companies in your field have hiring cycles? Your professors and other contacts you have in the field will be able to tell you when you should start thinking about applying for jobs. Typically, it’s best to start looking for jobs one to three months before graduation, but every industry is different.

As you plan your job search, Denise Terry, director of the Center for Career Connections at Grace College, says, “Assume the process will take longer than anticipated.” Recognize that finding a job after college can take a while, and be patient. Just because a company hasn’t gotten back to you a couple of weeks after you apply doesn’t mean they aren’t still considering you as a candidate.

Finding a job after college can feel daunting. Grace College is here to help you with what to do after you graduate college. Learn more today


3. Network.

Networking doesn’t have to be scary. Jaci Forshtay, Grace College’s career success coordinator, says, “Networking is relationship building.” You can network in a variety of ways, including establishing your online presence, conducting informational interviews, asking for introductions, and exposing yourself to companies in your field.

Establish your online presence to deepen your connections and help employers find you. Focus especially on developing your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles. When you meet someone, you can connect with them on LinkedIn after your introduction to remain connected. You can also use LinkedIn to connect with alumni in your field. Click on the alumni tab of your college’s page on LinkedIn to search for alumni in the fields or locations you’re interested in. 

Likewise, Handshake can help you with finding a job after college. “Handshake is designed for recent graduates,” says Terry. “Companies who list jobs on Handshake aren’t looking for people who have tons of experience; they’re looking for people like you. Make sure that your Handshake profile is up to date so that you can find jobs that fit your interests and skill set.”

You should also spend time networking in person. If you want to learn more about what your job will look like, conduct informational interviews with people in fields that interest you. If you don’t know who to ask, start by asking a professor to connect you. You can ask questions such as:

  • What does a typical day look like?
  • What skills are required for this job?
  • What do you like about your job?
  • What do you wish someone had told you sooner?

Finally, expose yourself to companies in your industry. If your college has a Center for Career Connections, take advantage of their events to help you network with companies. Career fairs, mock interviews, and the etiquette dinner can help you discover companies you might want to work for. You just might discover job options you never considered before.


4. Polish your resume and cover letter.

“Your resume is the culmination of your educational journey,” says Terry. “You should put lots of thought and creativity into it.” Tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job posting you are applying for. Your resume and cover letter should demonstrate that you understand the company and its needs. As you highlight your relevant experiences and accomplishments, think about what makes your experiences unique and how you have gone above and beyond.

Likewise, your cover letter should be creative. It should be cohesive with your resume, but expand on the experiences you include in your resume. Don’t be redundant! Instead, focus on sharing specific examples of how you’ve demonstrated your skills.


5. Look for jobs.

You can look for jobs on LinkedIn, Handshake, and Indeed. However,  job openings rarely get posted on job search platforms. If you know of a company you want to work for, contact them directly to inquire about job openings. Make sure you also ask your connections about job opportunities instead of just applying for jobs online.

Also, be open to working temporary jobs. Working a temporary job or completing an internship can help you gain experience and get your foot in the door at a company, which might lead to a full-time job.

Forshtay advises, “Look at several jobs and companies to explore your options instead of putting all your eggs in one basket.” 

“Be open to diverse opportunities,” Terry adds. “Don’t limit your options to your field.” Working a job that’s not in your field can open your eyes to other jobs you hadn’t considered. You might not get your dream job right out of college, but an entry-level position could lead to a promotion to the job of your dreams.


6. Apply.

When you find jobs that interest you, apply. If you find a job that sounds like your dream job but you can’t check every box on the list of applicant requirements, it’s still okay to apply! Maybe you won’t get the job, but sometimes students land their dream job right out of college. You won’t know unless you apply!

Finding a job after college can feel daunting. Grace College is here to help you with what to do after you graduate college. Learn more today

7. Interview.

It’s important to do your research before your job interview. Understand the skills and duties required for the job and learn about the company so that you can highlight relevant skills and prepare for the types of questions you might be asked during the interview. You can even practice interviews by going to your school’s Center for Career Connections, attending a Mock Interview Event, or having a friend ask you questions.

Make sure to also prepare questions for the interviewer. For example, you could ask them about day-to-day responsibilities, the characteristics they look for in employees, the most challenging aspect of the job, or what they enjoy about the job.

During the interview, tell stories about your previous experiences. “Stories make people compelling and memorable,” says Terry. When telling stories, focus on the problem, the action you took, and the results. This outline demonstrates your skills and shows the employer you can tackle obstacles.


8. Celebrate your success.

Congratulations! You’ve landed a job! All your hard work in college and the job search process has paid off. Now it’s time to gather your closest family and friends to celebrate your success in finding a job after college.

As you finish your senior year, thinking about finding a job after college may seem daunting, but if you follow these eight steps, the job search process will be more manageable. 

If you need extra guidance in figuring out what to do after you graduate college, learn how the Center for Career Connections can help you with the job search process and read about some of Grace College’s alumni who have had success in their careers.

Tagged With: About Grace College, Career Preparation