Top Tips for 2021 College Grads

Finding your career can be a daunting task. Fear of rejection, intense competition, and financial uncertainty are obstacles that can pop the bubble of academia. Moreover, the current job landscape is especially saturated, and it can feel downright hopeless sometimes

Being proactive can set you on the right track after graduation, and we’ve laid out a few tips to help you get started.

Do Your Research

While you may have written your last term paper, you’re not done researching yet.  Knowing your field, options, and opportunities is essential to breaking into your career.  With sites like Glassdoor, Linkedin, and Indeed, it’s easier than ever to find key information about your chosen patch.

Even if you’re not actively job hunting, keep yourself up to date on what employers are looking for.  Is there new software you could learn to help enhance your skills? Where are the industry leaders located? Spend some time to answer the lingering questions you have. Equip yourself to make the right decisions for your career.

Refine Your Resume

Recruiters don’t spend much time looking at a resumé, so it’s important that yours stands out.  There are plenty of templates online to draw inspiration from.  Your resumé is you on paper.  Make sure it reflects what is unique about you, and how you will be important to each company you’re applying to.  Although it can feel tedious to tweak little details every time, if the extra effort is what secures you a job it will be worth it.  Once you’re done, having a friend or an online resume reviewer look at it can provide valuable feedback.

Along with this, double check your cover letter.  A unique one should be written for each job- even the ones that don’t ask.  You rarely get to speak directly to the decision makers, so taking every opportunity is vital.

Talk to People

Network. Network. Network. In a competitive market, it’s not what you know, but who you know.  Use tools like LinkedIn to reach out to people who also graduated from your college.  Maybe they know of a position at their company, or have some advice that helped them find a job.  A small conversation can lead to bigger things down the road.

However, don’t forget that they’re people too.  Networking isn’t a vending machine where you put in conversations and you get a job.  Having a memorable conversation is more valuable than asking an acquaintance for a job interview.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

The job search will be hard, and it’s important to recognize that upfront. You’ll apply for some jobs that you’re not necessarily qualified for, and that’s okay.  Some months you might only get rejection letters, and sometimes you’ll make it to the final interview and lose out. That’s okay. Shake it off and move on to the next one.

However, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling. Sharing with friends and family, or even talking to a licenced psychiatrist if it starts to really affect your mindset, can all be beneficial.  Recognize when the process is taking its toll on your mental health, and be proactive about it.  If you find yourself becoming frustrated, remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. Take your time to find the right opportunity and approach each experience as a learning opportunity that helps you improve.

Lean Into Your Strengths

When you’re reading through job postings, it can be easy to focus on what you don’t have. Instead, focus on your strengths. Double down on what you’re good at, and make those skills shine. Be a little braggy. Potential employers aren’t going to know what you’re good at unless you tell them, and you can gloss over those things that you’re not as good at. Obviously don’t lie, but emphasizing your strengths will demonstrate how you add value to a company. Trying to explain your weaknesses might only keep them in a recruiters mind.

Stay Patient

Be in it for the long-haul; finding a job out of college can be a challenge.  Talk to your family, friends and seek advice from people you trust.

The average entry level job search can take 3-6 months, even if you’re a well qualified candidate. Recruiters and HR are people with other duties as well and it takes time from when you submit an application to review it and find the right candidates to interview.  That process for even three or four applications will add up. Follow-up if an employer hasn’t gotten back to you after a while, but don’t let a long process shake your self confidence.

If you didn’t walk away from college with a job, it can be very intimidating to step into your career after graduation. However, with these tips you’ll be set apart from your competition, and ready to make an impact wherever you go.