How to Land Your First Job out of College

If you’ve just graduated from college – congratulations! All your hard work has finally paid off. While it may be tempting to take a rest, what you do now could truly set you up to land a great first job. Here is your step-by-step guide to help you get an extra edge over other applicants.

Consider a volunteer role

While it is true that you should make job hunting your full-time role until you land a job, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on doing something productive. Consider taking up a volunteer role which is relevant to the job you want, develops skills or characteristics relevant to your dream job, or allows you to network with people who might be able to point you in the direction of a hiring department in need of someone just like you.

Apply for an internship

One problem recent graduates have when applying for their first job is a lack of actual experience in their field. If you don’t think you have enough experience to apply for a full-time role, consider applying for an internship. Whether paid or unpaid, an internship gives you solid experience that tells an employer that you’ve got the potential to do your job well and gives you a slight edge over other candidates without a similar experience. The most important thing to consider when accepting an internship is whether the tasks described in the role best fit the tasks laid out in your dream job. If they do, it’s a sign you’re on the right track!

Talk to family and friends

Depending on their situations, your family and friends could be a valuable source of information in terms of which companies are hiring in your area. If you wouldn’t mind working with your parents or siblings, this would be a great plan. As well as knowing when their peak hiring season occurs, you can quiz them on what the company looks for in new recruits as well as ways to impress them in the initial stages of the job interview. Companies with personal recommendations from people known to you are often the best way to get a job, as it means they are great places to work.

A personal reference from a professor

It’s always a good idea to maintain healthy relationships with your professors. Many college professors have industry links, which gives them an extra degree of insight into how the industry recruits. If your professor has good standing, this could make a personal recommendation or a character reference a very valuable asset indeed. Ask your professor out for a coffee or arrange a time to stop by their office. As long as you don’t overstep your boundaries and treat their connections with the respect they deserve, you could obtain a tip that could help you get an all-important introduction.

Practice your interviewing skills

If you haven’t interviewed for something in a long time, or you simply haven’t interviewed for something important, then it is a sign you need to practice your interviewing skills. Interviewing skills help you present your best self while under stress, which is important as many people fail to showcase their abilities in stressful situations. Practice interview skills with your friends, family, a teacher, or seek professional help if required. A little practice here makes a world of difference and knowing you can do this well will help you when you get a call back for your dream first role.

Practice psychometric tests

If you didn’t know already, most companies these days employ psychometric testing as part of their recruitment process. Psychometric testing simply allows employers to compare candidates across a variety of competencies, to discover which candidate might be the best performing in the role. Many college graduates complain that while their degree developed their minds exponentially, some of their other skills have dropped by the wayside. To ensure the best chance of success, practice psychometric tests. If you spend time really mastering a wide range of testing styles, you will be sure to shine when your results are being compared with the candidate pool.

Engage in relevant hobbies

Sit down and think about the hobbies most relevant to your profession. If you’ve graduate with a law degree, why not consider golf or debating? If you’ve graduated with an accounting degree, why not consider your local chess club? These suggestions might not ring true for you, but spend some time thinking about the hobbies people in your profession typically enjoy. If they seem like activities you would genuinely enjoy, why not do them? The key here is to only do it if you truly like it; if you attend just to network, you could come across as a bit false. On the other hand, if you enjoy what you are doing and end up making good friends in companies you know are hiring, what could be better than that?

Talk to someone in the profession

Professionals are always busy, but I don’t know a professional that would turn down an invitation to speak to a graduate genuinely interested in learning about how they started off their career. Spend some time researching one professional in a target company or in the industry as a whole. Manners matter here, so ensure you approach them in a respectful way that honors their time is in demand. You could invite them out for lunch (your shout of course) and spend time truly getting to know how they got their first foot in the door. You never know how this will end up; you might end up with an inspirational story, a tip you can put into use, or a contact in HR. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.

Towards landing that role

With a little bit of smart planning and a well-executed but thoughtful plan, you too could increase your chances of landing a great job straight out of college. Remember, what you do each day has the potential to make you stand out; what will you do today to help you get a foot in the door?