How to Find a Job After College: A Framework For Landing Your First Big Role
You just went through years of intensive studying, exam-taking, internships, and have a college degree to show for it all. Now, it’s time to find your first job after college.
Before you send out the applications, invest some time in researching the best ways to apply for a job right after graduation. Many students often lack a sense of preparedness when it comes to embarking on a job search, resulting in new graduates feeling uncertain about effectively navigating the process and securing interview opportunities.
There are, however, many resources available to help give college graduates a step up in the job search.
3 key takeaways
- Why your first job out of college is important
- Why recent graduates struggle with landing a job out of college
- How to find a job after college, including where to look for jobs and how to stand out during the application process
Why your first job out of college matters
Your first job after college is significant because it is the first step toward your dream career.
The opportunities in your early career provide you with practical exposure to the professional world, hands-on experience, and the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills gained during your studies.
Entry-level jobs give you a deeper understanding of your chosen industry by helping you understand its dynamics, developing new skills, and introducing you to company culture. Additionally, first jobs offer valuable networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with established professionals in your field.
The experience gained from your first job helps you refine your goals, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and make informed decisions about your career trajectory.
Reasons recent graduates struggle landing a job out of college
Did you know that about two-thirds of students find it difficult to get a job after college? That can be a discouraging statistic for the recent graduates out there.
Upon graduation, a considerable number of college students with a specialized bachelor's degree enter the job market simultaneously, resulting in a highly competitive landscape for landing an entry-level position.
Apart from competition, recent graduates face various challenges during their job search. Here are several factors that may be contributing to the difficulty in finding employment after college.
Lack of work experience
Many entry-level positions require prior work experience, which can be a barrier for recent graduates who have limited or no professional experience.
Just because you lack industry-specific experience doesn't mean you don't possess certain skills that can be easily applied to your target role. Emphasize your transferable skills to highlight skills you've gained throughout volunteer work, internships, coursework, or extracurricular activities that are relevant to the job you're applying for.
Highly competitive job market
The job market is often highly competitive, with many graduates vying for a limited number of positions. Other qualified applicants can make it challenging for you to secure employment right away.
Mismatched skills and job requirements
Graduates may find it difficult to align their specific skills and knowledge with the requirements of the job postings. This mismatch can lead to a hiring manager or potential employer favoring candidates with more specialized or relevant expertise.
Don't worry, there are resources to help overcome this obstacle. Teal’s Job Application Tracker & AI Resume Builder help extract the top keywords so you can quickly customize your job application materials and let a company know exactly why you are applying for a specific position.
Limited professional network
Building a professional network takes time, and recent graduates may not have had sufficient opportunities to establish connections within their chosen industry. Networking is crucial for accessing job leads and referrals, so start networking as soon as possible.
High expectations and unrealistic goals
It's possible you may have unrealistic expectations about your first job.
Graduates may have unrealistic expectations about salary, job responsibilities, or career progression, which can make it harder to find suitable entry-level positions that align with their aspirations.
It's important to note that while these factors may contribute to initial job search difficulties, persistence, adaptability, and a proactive approach to gaining relevant experience can help you overcome these challenges and eventually secure meaningful employment.
Steps to take before beginning the job search
Before you begin your job search, there are steps that help increase your chances of success and make seeking employment less time-consuming.
Conduct a self-assessment
Assess your skills, interests, values, and long-term career goals by taking Teal’s Work Style Assessment, a quick self assessment to help you build your confidence in your career journey. This self-reflection will help identify suitable career paths and help you make informed decisions during the job search process.
Prepare your job search assets
For college graduates, putting together the necessary job search materials can be challenging, partially due to limited work experience. This is where you can lean on your skills and achievements from other areas of life.
Here are some important job search assets to optimize for your job search:
Visit Teal's Career Hub to learn more about optimizing these materials.
Determine your professional branding
Establish a professional online presence by creating or updating your LinkedIn profile. A survey found 55% of hiring decision-makers found social media content that encouraged them not to hire a candidate. To avoid this happening to you, carefully review and sanitize your social media accounts to project a positive image to potential employers.
Building a professional network is necessary for job search success. Reach out to former professors, alumni, and professionals in their fields of interest, attend career fairs and industry events, and join relevant professional organizations to expand your network.
Not sure how to start a conversation over email or LinkedIn? When you sign up for a free Teal account, you have access to dozens of communication templates to use for cold outreach.
Seek out internships and part-time work
Gaining practical experience through internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer work can significantly enhance your resume and increase your chances of securing full-time employment.
Research and target companies
Always conduct thorough research on companies and industries of interest. This will help you identify organizations that align with your values, career goals, and skill set, enabling you to tailor your job search efforts effectively.
Once you find a few companies of interest, think of the ways your skills, experience and personality are in line with the company’s mission and culture. Target those companies by playing up those commonalities in your resume and cover letter.
Choose professional references
Identify potential references, such as former professors, supervisors, or mentors, who can vouch for your abilities and character.
By taking these steps before initiating your job search, you can position yourself more effectively to potential employers.
Where to look for job opportunities
When looking for jobs in today's competitive landscape, you need to get a little creative.
Relying solely on traditional methods like large job boards may limit your exposure and make it harder to stand out among other candidates.
By harnessing the power of social media and networking opportunities, however, you can expand your reach and tap into a wider pool of job prospects.
As you are searching, try these tips and resources.
Almost half (48%) of millennials and Gen Z have applied for a job they found on social media, proving that these platforms make a huge difference in your job search.
Below are the best ways college graduates can search for jobs via social media.
A LinkedIn account is necessary for anyone who is job searching. The platform allows you to upload your resume, job search, and create posts and articles that show off your expertise. Many employers use LinkedIn to recruit job candidates, and investing in the optimization of your profile is a way to stand out.
A great way to check your LinkedIn profile is to download Teal’s free Chrome Extension which includes an automated LinkedIn Profile Review. Once you install the extension, just go to your profile page and click on the Teal logo. You’ll see a list of recommendations on how best to optimize your profile and can make updates as needed.
Professionals use Facebook Groups as a way to network and find opportunities. If you search for the name of your industry and 'jobs,' many Facebook Groups pop up that introduce you to opportunities, help you land an interview, and get through the hiring process successfully.
Twitter can be used to find a job after college with the help of hashtags, Twitter chats, and active recruiters and HR professionals. The hashtags #JobSearch, #CareerAdvice, and #JobTip are especially useful to college graduates as they try to find a job after college.
Niche job boards
It can be difficult filtering out inapplicable jobs from large job boards. The good news is there are niche boards out there that help narrow down your search focus.
For tech jobs specifically, these niche boards are worth taking advantage of:
- Behance: Behance is an online community for creative professionals.
- Dice: Tech job listings and professional resources are available at Dice.
- Dribble: Dribble is a great resource for graphic designers and design professionals to network and get a job.
- Remote Tech Jobs: As the name implies, these jobs are all remote and in the tech industry.
- Remotive.io: A website that offers only remote jobs in the tech and start-up industries.
Networking events and platforms
Whether you attend in-person or virtually, networking events are an important aspect of getting a job after college. Meetup.com has thousands of both in-person and virtual events, with many that focus on specific industries, interests, and professional development opportunities.
As you are looking for networking events, consider the following:
- Find an event that is in line with your values and goals
- Choose an event that presents you with new information on your industry or career path
- Make sure there is an opportunity to get to know other event attendees
How to stand out in the application process
A standout application captures the attention of hiring managers, piques their curiosity, and increases your chances of securing an interview.
It allows you to differentiate yourself as a candidate who not only meets the required qualifications but also brings something extra to the table.
Whether it's through a captivating cover letter, an impeccably tailored resume, or an innovative portfolio, standing out demonstrates your commitment, creativity, and ability to go the extra mile. It shows that you are willing to put in the effort to make a lasting impression, ultimately positioning you as a top contender for the job.
Tailor your resume and cover letter
Tailoring your resume and cover letter to the job you are applying to is absolutely necessary, as hiring managers often receive numerous applications and need to scan through them to identify the most promising candidates.
Additionally, tailoring your resume and cover letter allows you to emphasize the skills, experiences, and achievements that directly relate to the job requirements, showcasing your suitability for the role. This customization demonstrates your attention to detail, genuine interest, and ability to align your qualifications with the specific needs of the position, ultimately increasing your chances of securing an interview and moving forward in the hiring process.
By customizing your documents, you increase the chances of catching attention and standing out from other applicants. Incorporating relevant relevant keywords for resume that align with the job description and industry are the best way to move your resume and cover letter to the "interview" group.
To get started on your documents and create a more efficient process, utilize Teal's free AI Resume Builder, which includes templates, recommendations, AI functionalities and more to help you create a resume and cover letter that aligns with each job description.
Practice your interview skills
The interview process is often stressful. The best way to conquer that stress is to get comfortable with being interviewed.
Practicing your interview skills is one of the best ways to secure a job after college. With other graduates going after the same opportunities, a confident and articulate interview can make you appear more polished to a potential employer.
A great way to start preparing for an interview is to find a career coach or mentor to ask you common interview questions and provide feedback on your answers. When you practice and incorporate feedback, the interview process becomes less stressful. You can also leverage AI for job interviews.
Within Teal’s Job Application Tracker are tips and resources to help you practice interviewing.
Show your passion for the role and industry
The best way to show your passion is through a combination of thorough research, genuine enthusiasm, and compelling storytelling.
Start by staying up-to-date with current industry trends, and understanding the challenges and opportunities those trends present. This knowledge will allow you to articulate your passion in a meaningful way.
During interviews, share personal anecdotes that highlight moments when you felt truly inspired or accomplished within the field. Use specific examples to demonstrate your commitment and dedication.
Additionally, be prepared to discuss relevant projects, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities that showcase your active involvement and genuine interest. Let your enthusiasm shine through in your tone of voice, body language, and overall demeanor.
Manage your job search with Teal
If you're struggling to find a job, Teal's features help to overcome your job-search challenges.
With Teal, college graduates get a step up amongst the competition. By signing up for a free Teal account, you access multiple tools that can give your career a boost.
Here are just a few ways you can leverage Teal's features to stay motivated during your job search and land a job after college.
Track your job search
There are multiple ways to organize your job search, but the most effective way is to use a job tracker. Manage your job search with Teal, a free Job Application Tracker that lets you track and store important job hunting details all in one place.
Once you’ve applied, you can stay on track with follow-up reminders as you move through each stage of the application and interview process until you’ve finally received an offer.
Match your resume & cover letter to each job you apply for
Use Teal's features to make sure your application package best fits the opportunity you're applying for.
Teal's resume checker gives you real-time feedback on your resume's effectiveness and offers tips to improve its quality. Teal also makes sure your resume matches each job you're applying for, showing hiring managers you are the best fit.
With the right strategies and Teal, "How long does it take to find a job?" becomes "How do I manage my job offers?"
Automatically apply for the jobs that interest you most
Did you know Teal can autofill your applications for you?
When you install Teal's free Chrome Extension, you access Teal's artificial intelligence capabilities, which create a more efficient process and help you connect your experience with the open positions you're applying for.
Additionally, Teal detects application opportunities across nearly 50 job boards, connecting you directly with positions that fit your experience.
Sign up for a free Teal account today, or upgrade to Teal+ for more features that help land your dream job.