Congratulations to the Class of 2019. You did it! The tassel was worth the hassle! I attended multiple graduations this weekend and though I really enjoyed the messages from the grad speakers, [insert motivational Dr. Seuss quote here], I didn’t hear a lot of actionable advice on how to handle what comes next: the job hunt. I’m sure you’ve heard enough of the “follow your heart” and the “life’s about the journey you take and the mistakes you make” sentiment at this point, so here are some things you can do right now to land your first job out of college.
Websites like LinkedIn and Indeed are great for finding listings you are interested in. After you’ve found a job rec on one of these sites, Google the company to apply to those roles directly on their Careers site. It may take a little more effort, but this is your best chance to get your application reviewed by a human rather than being lost in the pool of 1-click apply LinkedIn profiles.
Your college degree qualifies you for MOST entry level jobs (requiring less than 3 years of experience). The whole point of an entry level job is that it’s meant to be filled by someone without much practical experience. Even if your major doesn’t completely align with job requirements, you can still be a great candidate based on your transferrable skills and aptitude to learn. Enroll in a course on a site like Udemy (~$10 during a sale) to continue lifelong learning and pick up a new skill. This could be anything you’re interested in from video editing to coding to project management that adds value to companies you are targeting.
Class projects, volunteering, research, and club/org activity are fair game to use on your resume and during interviews. These come in especially handy for those “tell me about a time when you…” types of situational story interview questions. Create STAR response charts for these types of experiences and keep them handy to review the day before a big interview.
Update your resume using Google’s resume formula to describe your experience. “Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z].” The more actual metrics you can use to emphasize the scale of what you’ve worked on, the better. How much money did you raise by planning that fundraiser? By what percentage did you increase retention as your club’s social chair? How many students did you tutor and how much better was their next grade?
A little enthusiasm goes a long way in the interview process! Make sure to mention that you are excited about the industry, company, and job opportunity you are applying for. Interviewers are looking for a candidate who is trainable and will be a good culture fit with the team. Read the company’s “culture” statement and check if they are active on social media to find out some recent wins you can bring up while interviewing.
Find alumni from your school that are working in industries that interest you. Send them a message on LinkedIn asking if they are willing to hop on a 30m call for an informal informational interview about their job and company. This is a great way to get some insight into what a job is like and maybe even get a recommendation. Sample message: “Hi [person]! I am a fellow [school] graduate class of [year] and was interested in hearing more about your career as a [job title]. Based on my experience [list relevant experience/interest/common major] I think [the industry] could be a good fit for me. Would you be willing to schedule a 30 minute informational interview with me? I have some questions ready about your day-to-day and would love to hear more about your career up to this point."
Apply broadly and don’t get discouraged if you aren’t hearing back from every company. I applied to 50+ jobs after graduation and started the interview process at 3. Job hunting (especially for your first job) is a numbers game. Create a Trello board to keep track of companies you’ve applied to and where in the process you are.
Have some more job hunting advice for recent grads? Leave it in the comments! Want more? You can find me on instagram @_steph.js where I post dev humor and a sneak peak into my day-to-day. I also have a blog stephjs.com for longer, more in-depth posts.