5 Important Steps on Getting Your First After-College Job

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This is a guest post by Christopher Mercer.

It seems unfair. You’ve worked hard throughout your university only to then have to work hard to find a job. It doesn’t even seem like having gone to college gives you that much of advantage. So why did you work yourself so far into debt, right?

Well, I’m here to tell you two things.

First of all, having gotten a degree is huge. Yes, it’s still hard to get a job but now you’re competing for the serious career tracks. That means that soon if you play your cards right you’ll be raking it in or fulfilling your heart’s desire (or both).

Finding a job doesn’t actually need to be that hard. You just need to take the right steps. And those are the ones I’m going to outline in this article. Sounds good right? So let’s get straight on it.

1. Get an internship.

If the school year isn’t over then get an internship. Even if it’s only one or two days a week it can make a huge difference as it will look like you’ll have months of experience in the sector relevant to what you’re trying to do.

Of course, a paid internship is better, but consider doing one or two months unpaid as well during your summer break. You’ll learn a lot and you might even make connections that turn out to be valuable in getting you the position you’re hoping for.

2. Have a perfect CV and cover letter.

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You will want to have these ready so that whoever you might run into, you’ll be able to hand them off straight away. Your CV should be pitched towards the industry you want to work in. That means not just putting in previous jobs and achievements in a chronological order but rather in terms of their relevance to the job you’re interested in doing.

Cover letters have to be written individually for whatever business you’re applying to. That does not mean you can’t recycle bits, but it does mean you have to make sure you mention the company you’re applying to and why you’d like to work for them.

Writing a good cover letter is an art. So learn it.

3. Prime your network.

Yes, some people find their jobs by going the ‘official’ way. They sent CVs and cover letters to firms where they don’t know anybody. And there is nothing wrong with that strategy.  Most people, however, find their jobs through their networks.

The advantage of going this route is that you will have an incredibly valuable additional asset. That is having somebody vouch for you. This will open up doors to positions that otherwise might have remained closed to you.

So how do you prime your network? Well, first you’ll want to let people know you’re about to graduate.

You can share posts on social media about your upcoming graduation day and how happy and successful you were there. If you have managed to get good grades and a high GPA, then show it and tell people how proud you are that you got there. Don’t exaggerate (people hate a salesperson) but just let them know you’re out there.  

4. Hit people up individually.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to reach out to people individually and ask if they know anybody who works in the industry you’re interested in.

Don’t just put something on your wall as when you do that, the bystander effect (Where the more people see something the less likely anybody will take action) will make it far less likely people will get back to you.

So write people individually. Just like with the cover letter, make sure the person feels that you’ve actually taken the time to write them a personal note. Then they’ll feel far more inclined to reciprocate.

Here’s a TED talk on how to land the ideal job with one email:

5. Getting a job after university is a full time job.

Treating it as such can make a huge difference to your future. Even managing to get one step higher in the career ladder now can make a difference of millions of dollars (and a huge amount of fulfillment) down the line. So don’t hold back.

Treat this as another exam period. Except that now instead of your professor being the one who will give you a grade, it will be your future self. Plus, you really don’t want them to regret your actions.

So do it for your future self. You’ll thank yourself for it. That’s how you get your first after-college job.

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