Leaving college and entering the workforce is a thrilling experience. But it can also be a time of uncertainty. After spending all your life as a student, it’s finally time to step into a full-fledged profession.
Finding the right first job out of college can set you up for a promising career path and connect you with professionals that can help you excel. But how much does this first step after college truly matter?
Read on as we evaluate the importance of the first post-college job and discuss how to land an amazing one.
Why Your First Job Out of College Matters
You might think that your initial job post-college doesn’t matter much. As long as you’re employed, you’re on a good career path, right? Not exactly.
Your initial job after college matters for many reasons. After all, you did not spend tens of thousands of dollars to end up in a job that you dread or in a role that offers no interesting challenges. Let’s examine how that shiny new role affects your professional future.
Building Up Relevant Skills
When it comes to job readiness, many employers report that college students lack certain core skills, including professionalism and problem solving. The first position you take after college has the potential to sharpen these skills and make you a more valuable employee.
A role that allows you to develop as a professional is a launchpad for success. After building up these competencies, you’ll have the ability to rise to new challenges. You can leverage these new skills to negotiate a promotion, land a better role at a new company or even step out of your comfort zone and launch your own business.
Networking For Future Success
The opportunity to network is another reason you should give some thought to your first role after graduation. Working at a company filled with skilled professionals and upwardly mobile people offers perks in the short and long term. The right first job can introduce you to professionals and allow you to make a name for yourself in the industry.
Additionally, networking right out of college can help pave the road to future endeavors. Over half of open jobs are never advertised on job boards. Many employers turn to others in the industry for hiring recommendations. If you’ve been building connections since you entered the workforce, your name could be submitted. So consider your future when looking for the right job after college.
Avoiding the Underemployment Trap
We often hear about unemployment. But underemployment is the less discussed pitfall that new college grads face. When you are underemployed, you’re working at a job that does not allow you to put your knowledge and skills to work. For instance, a new grad with a political science degree who takes a job as a barista is underemployed, even if they work full time.
According to The Strada Institute, workers underemployed in their first job are five times more likely to stay underemployed when examined five years later. This is a significant reason why your first job out of college is important. To avoid stagnating in a less than desirable role, put in the work to find great employment right out of college. There’s more information on this below!
How to Land a Great First Job Out of College
Now that you have your degree, it’s time to leverage it to find a position that will give you practical knowledge and advance your professional skill set. There’s no clear cut way to do this, but some guidelines will place you on the right track.
1. Determine What You Want
Before anything else, write down what you are looking for in a job. If you are unsure, start by writing what you don’t want. If there are certain tasks or aspects of past internships or jobs that you disliked, put these on the “no” side of the list.
On the “yes” side, include aspects of a role that you would like to have. For example, the ability to work on a team, work on meaningful projects or shape the direction of your department might be on this side of the list.
While you might not get all the boxes checked, having a guideline will help you filter out jobs you know are the wrong fit. Plus, it’s easier to land your dream job if you’ve clearly defined it ahead of time.
2. Tap Into Your Professional Network
Armed with the list of what you desire in a job, it’s time to start hunting. Of course, online job boards are a great place to start. But don’t stop there. Your network can connect you to roles that you otherwise would have missed. Since 51% of millennials report feeling uncomfortable asking connections about job referrals, many miss out on open roles and potential dream jobs. Don’t make the same mistake.
Instead, approach your network respectfully, and don’t be afraid to hear no. Turn to your professors, alumni network, career coach and other connections from your university days. You can even ask old classmates if their companies are hiring more new grads. Put yourself out there and see what opportunities come your way.
3. Revamp the Resume and Cover Letter
Next, take a look at your resume and ensure it is up to date. While mentions of high school involvement on your resume may have worked in college, they should be removed now that you are a graduate. Focus on highlighting internships and community involvement activities that you were a part of during your undergrad career.
When it comes to cover letters, remember to craft a tailored one for each job application. You may be applying for many jobs, but a generic cover letter won’t impress a recruiter. Add details specific to each role to make every cover letter unique and impactful.
4. Make Time For Interview Prep
Last but not least, prepare for the interview. Whether it will be a virtual interview or an in-person one, this is your chance to sell yourself as the best candidate for the role. Research the company ahead of time and have a list of questions you can ask the interviewer ready to go.
Coming across as collected and confident in the interview is vital, especially as a new college graduate. Because the interview is such an important part of securing the job, utilizing an interview preparation system to analyze your strengths and weaknesses is a great idea.
What to Do if You Don’t Like Your New Job
While your first job after graduating from college does play a role in your career trajectory, it’s not the end all be all. If your job does not offer room for growth or does not align with your interests, it’s important to change course as soon as possible. Here are a few steps to follow in this situation.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
Shifting from a varied college schedule to a structured, full-time role is no small task. Don’t expect to hit your stride right away. If you feel anxious or overwhelmed at your new job, you’re not alone. However, you need to evaluate whether it is the job you don’t like or the many new challenges you’re facing as a college graduate.
After some time, you may find that you enjoyed the role and were simply getting used to the demands of a full-time role. If this is not the case, it’s time to explore other options. Using the tips above, conduct a job search to find a new role.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that millions of professionals switch occupations throughout their careers. So you don’t need to feel guilty about leaving your place of work. Just make sure you’re not burning bridges on the way out.
Give your supervisor advanced notice of your exit and thank them for the opportunity when you leave. Be sure to stay connected with your colleagues on Linkedin, especially if you’re staying in the same industry. You never know how your past connections will come in handy.
Wow the Interviewer to Land Your Dream Job
Hitting your stride in the professional world starts with getting the job you want. Before you walk into the interview, make sure you’re ready for whatever comes your way. InterviewFocus is state-of-the-art software that is revolutionizing the interview preparation process.
To elevate your interview skills and stand out in a sea of applicants, try InterviewFocus today!