Job Hunting Guide for College Grads

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There are many resources available to help college graduates (and college students) with their job searches. From your college’s career office to alumni who have volunteered to help to job sites specifically for students and graduates, you'll find a variety of resources available to help with a college job search.

Learn what resources are available and how best to use them to find a summer or part-time job, an internship, or your first job out of college.

Job Search Resources for College Grads

College Career Offices

The first and most important college-student job-search tip, for both underclass students and graduating seniors, is to visit your college or university career office (sometimes called a career services office). Most career offices provide college students with personal career counseling, job and internship listings, and other forms of job search assistance. Career offices also often run job shadowing programs, job fairs, recruiting programs, and other networking opportunities for students and graduates. They might also run workshops and seminars on various job search topics.

A college career office can help with nearly every step of your job search process. For example, the staff can even help you create a resume and draft a cover letter. Many career offices will conduct practice interviews with you as well.

College Job Fairs

Many colleges host job fairs, both on and off campus. Some fairs are focused on a particular industry, such as a job fair in education or marketing. Taking the time to attend is well worth the effort. You'll have the opportunity to meet companies that are hiring, learn more about opportunities at those companies, and, and at some events, you’ll even be able to interview for jobs.

Also, check out any job fairs in your college’s town or city. This is a great way to find a local job, which is especially useful if you want a job or internship while you are still in school.

College Recruiting Programs

Participating in college recruiting programs is a great way to tap opportunities. Many large employers have formal college recruitment programs they use to recruit college students and alumni for jobs, internships, summer jobs, and co-op opportunities at the company. Smaller companies also recruit on a less formal basis, posting new job openings as they become available.

Recruiting programs might be in-person – for example, employers might come to your school to recruit candidates. However, recruiting programs increasingly are going virtual. There are many online recruiting programs. Check with your career services office to learn about programs at your school.

College Career Networking Opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for college students and grads to network and to investigate career options. For example, build relationships with your professors, and keep them posted on your job search. They might have contacts in your industry or know of opportunities available to you.

Also, attend any relevant career workshops at your school. Many workshops will be hosted by your career services office. These are great opportunities to meet hiring managers in your industry.

You might also explore networking opportunities in your surrounding community. Your college town or city might have people in various industries willing to meet with students interested in their fields.

Finally, make use of your college’s alumni network. Check with your career office or alumni office to see if there is a database of alumni willing to talk with current students. You might be able to conduct an informational interview or even job shadow someone in a career of interest.

Online Job Searching

For college students about to enter the workforce and students looking for a summer or part-time job, there are a variety of jobs sites dedicated to entry-level jobs.

There are also other kinds of niche job sites, including sites focused on internships and sites devoted to particular industries. Many of these job sites not only include job listings, but they also provide career and job search advice, including tips specifically for college students.

Some of these entry-level sites are only accessible through a college career office. In this case, you will need a password from your career office to access the resources. Others are available for all job seekers interested in entry-level positions.

Job Search Tips for College Grads

Consider an Internship

Not ready for a "real" job yet? A lot of college students aren't. Keep in mind that your first job doesn't need to be a full-time or professional position. There are a variety of options available for college students including internships, short-term work experiences, or volunteering. For recent college graduates, as well as college students, an internship is a way to try a new job without making a permanent commitment. It is also a great opportunity for a student who is looking for a job for the school year or is looking for a summer job.

Be Flexible

If you are having trouble finding a job, broaden the number of fields you are considering. Since you are looking for an entry-level job, it is a good idea to broaden your horizons. You never know where your first job might take you.

Network Extensively

One of the best ways to find a job is through someone you know. Take the time to speak with professors about your job hunt, conduct informational interviews with alumni, and attend any job events on campus. Once you meet someone and get to know him or her, stay in touch by sending the person an email every now and then, updating him or her on your job search. You never know what connection is going to lead to a job.

Collect References

Before graduating, find some job references. Your references might include professors, athletic coaches, internship supervisors, and others who can speak to your skills and abilities. Ask them to serve as references, and then create a list of references to have on hand for when you begin applying for jobs. You might also ask a few to write you letters of reference, so you have those on hand in case an employer wants them.

Don’t Panic

Even if you have waited until the last minute to start a job search, don't panic. The college hiring season is not as compressed as it was in the past. There will be plenty of opportunities to apply for. Set up an appointment with a counselor in your career office, and get started. If you do have time to plan ahead, semester break is a perfect time to work on job searching.

Say Thank You

Once you do get a job, be sure to send a thank you note to everyone who helped you with your search, including people who wrote you letters of recommendation, people with whom you conducted informational interviews, and people you job shadowed. Saying thank you is not only polite, but it is also a useful way to stay in touch with people. You never know when you might need help finding another job in the future.