The Job Search – and the stress that comes with it
As you approach your senior year, and especially as you approach that final quarter of college, a severe case of senioritis will kick in harder than just about any other sensation you’ve ever experience. After all, you’re just about to complete something that for the rest of your life will be one of your greatest accomplishments!
Let’s not forget to mention that as a post-grad, you will be among an elite class of the population. More than 90% of the world’s population are unable to afford or otherwise have access to college. Even incredibly bright people who qualify for partial scholarships have a hard time paying for a degree.
Like many recent graduates, you’ll enjoy that first “free forever” summer; but you know there’s a great big “real world” out there, and you may be fearful of what it holds for you and your future. Are there any jobs available in your field of study? It could be disappointing if you completed four (or more) years of college, only to realize as a recent grad that your passion for your college major fizzled out over the years – and now you have a diploma on the subject!
Who do you know who understands what you’re going through, and are they truly a good resource for you? As all these critical questions swim through your mind and keep you awake at night, you may find yourself paralyzed with anxiety and fear.
Those feelings make it harder to tackle things on your critical path to-do list. Who can you turn to that understands what you’re going through, and are they truly a good resource for you? As all these critical questions swim through your mind and keep you awake at night, you may find yourself paralyzed with anxiety and fear.
The Recent Grad Realities that Keep You Up at Night — and What to Do About Them!
Getting kicked out of your dorm upon graduation, or being told by your parents that you need to move out as soon as you can be scary. That will pop the bubble you lived in during your years of studying, partying, and enjoying the lifestyle as a college or university student. However, you have options, and here’s one of the most important things you will ever hear:
WORRYING DOESN’T SOLVE ANYTHING!
You must have a can-do attitude, and you must believe you will make it — because truly, you will! You’ll find a place to live outside of a dorm or your parents’ house. You will begin to become a wage-earner, and eventually, you will land the kind of job you deserve. Sure, it’s true most people don’t land a six-figure, life-long career position right after graduating. Millennials and Gen Z are lifelong job-hoppers, skipping from one career to another, even jumping from one industry to another.
If you’re a part of either of these generations, you probably prefer to:
- Work remotely
- Make your schedule
- Work as an independent contractor
- Take on multiple clients (to keep it varied and exciting)
- Not work for one company as a W2 employee
- Enjoy the freedom to work on vacation
- Come and go as you please
As long as you have Wi-Fi and a laptop or mobile device, you’re open for business — and that’s how you like it. Right? The good news is, these kinds of jobs are very much on-trend; more and more companies, even large, old, traditional corporations are beginning to offer positions of this nature. As a recent graduate, you can make a living as a freelancer in almost any field imaginable! You’ll quickly learn on the job how to most efficiently get things done — whether you’re at home, in an office, or on the beach.
No Fear: There’s a Place for You in the Job Market Post Grad, No Matter Your Expertise
To be fearful of change is to be fearful of what is most organic for your generation. The truth is, everyone is scared. Even those who are decades older than you have fears about employment and financial security! But fear does nothing to help you obtain and maintain a job or move closer to that brass ring career. That job we’re all hoping for offers substantial pay, 401(k), medical benefits for you, your spouse, and your children, and in some instances, partial ownership in the company.
The Keys to Landing the “Brass Ring” Career Position for Recent Graduates
In the most basic sense, you want to be the best you can be, but it’s also vital to continue learning after college is over at any job you get in your post-grad days. On-the-job learning is crucial to your long-term success, even if that job is at a coffee shop or a grocery store. As you work at your “temporary” jobs, continue to send out résumés and cover letters. There are companies out there looking for people like you!
To make the most of your time and ensure you grab that brass ring as soon as possible, make sure you are:
- Hone skills with entry/moderate-level jobs; track start and end dates for each job
- Add all jobs to your résumé, list everything you were in charge of, and any of your significant achievements with each employer
- Add your biography to Websites, including LinkedIn and industry-specific résumé sites
- Showcase your résumé and upload documents or include links to projects you’ve worked on, skills you’ve acquired people can endorse you for, and samples of your work
- Artists, inventors, writers, musicians, and graphic or interior designers: create profiles on Websites like these highlighting examples of your skills in ultra-high resolution
- Programmers, data analysts, IT specialists, or computer scientists: create profiles on Websites like the ones discussed in this article
- Use optimized keywords in summaries, résumé job descriptions, and anywhere else possible.
- Example: Recent graduate in graphic design living in Lester, PA.
- An ideal title for this profile: Professional Graphic Designer in Lester, PA, with Carnegie Mellon Degree.
- In the profile body, use phrases like those below:
- “Lester, PA graphic designer.”
- “experienced graphic designer near Pittsburgh.”
- “Pittsburgh-area graphic designer with a college degree.”
- Example: Recent graduate in graphic design living in Lester, PA.
- Friends, colleagues, prior employers, and professors can write recommendations on LinkedIn and other résumé profile sites where you have a profile
- Anytime you email cover letters with your résumé, include links to LinkedIn and any industry-specific profiles
Once you’ve done the above-listed things, a great deal of your post-grad anxiety will lift off your shoulders. When you know you’ve done your best to put yourself out there in the most efficient ways possible, you feel productive. More importantly, now you’re searchable!
Employers go to résumé Websites to find listings of professionals in your field. Now that you’ve done your due diligence, your profile shows up at the top of their search! Relax: now it’s time to take a sigh of relief! Other recent graduates have likely not taken this many steps to create professional online visibility. Beyond your digital presence, you hold a well-crafted résumé and an editable cover letter template. You can alter the message to suit each time you reach out to a different employer. With all this in place, you’re way ahead of the game — so relax!
Before You Become a Post Grad, Schedule a Final Meeting with Advisors, Visit Professors
One last visit to your guidance counselor or advisor before the final semester is over is an excellent idea. Not only do these people have the training to help you choose the best classes, but they are also oracles of information for recent graduates. They have the information a student nearing graduation day need!
Listen to your advisor: Don’t just make the appointment to go and see your guidance counselor or advisor and then sit there daydreaming. Go in with the intention of walking away with the outline of a plan you can begin to flesh out through research, networking, paid internships, and anything else you can do to put yourself out there. Take notes when your advisor is talking during this final meeting with him or her. Additionally, don’t feel silly about asking if you can see them once you’re post-grad.
Advisors will almost assuredly invite you to schedule an appointment whenever you need their help or advice for real world stuff, even if it isn’t necessarily about finding a job. Whether you need to know how to ask for letters of recommendation, or you want to drop in because you feel depressed and aren’t quite sure who else to turn to or what else to do now that school is over, advisors are there for you.
Email, Call or Visit Your Favorite Professors to Reveal Solutions to Current Struggles
Other great sources of excellent information are the teachers who educated you! No one loves all of their teachers in college, but there are always those one or two (maybe more if you’re lucky) whose class you always looked forward to, and who you often found yourself chatting with after school. Make a point of staying in touch with these professors; hopefully, you’ve done good work in their class! If you know they like you too, shoot them an email or call them during office hours. If an email response gets you what you need and answers your question(s), that’s great, and likewise with a chat on the phone.
If you still feel a little lost or as though the answers you’re looking for aren’t entirely answered, schedule a time during professors’ office hours, and drop by to chat with more in-depth. When it comes to communication, we always get more out of the exchanges we have one-on-one, and in-person.
You may not find the “end-all, be-all” answers to questions you have about the “real world” like; how to find a job or should you sign-up for a master’s program. However, you will get bits and pieces of the answers you seek. These conversations can lead to revelations regarding your concerns, questions, and what’s keeping you up at night.
Pro-Tip: Keep a bedside journal so you can write anytime you wake up with an idea or an answer.
Add up all these experiences and uncover your true purpose: what you should do with your life!
Plan a Visit with College Advisors: Superior Sources of Helpful Information for Post Grads
Your college advisors, guidance counselors, and professors have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on out there; things you may not know currently. Your senior-level teachers, by-and-large, are an excellent resource for what’s up-and-coming in their industry (in many cases, they’ve “written the book” about it) and will have insights about where to look for jobs that aren’t common knowledge.
If it’s one of your favorite teachers, all recent graduates should ask for a letter of recommendation if they didn’t get to it during the final semester of school. Letters of recommendation from highly respected professors are compelling because they are a lot more than just teachers most of the time. More often than not, they are also pillars within their field or even seasoned business professionals with important contacts.
Tenured professors often speak at prestigious industry events, dinners, and galas. They also have vast networks of peers and colleagues. They just might be willing to share their connections with you should you need a job or internship.