Finding a job after graduation can be difficult, even for those with the most polished resumes. Sometimes employers are looking for something extra that might make a candidate stand out. This can be anything from volunteering at a hospital on the weekends to developing a new mobile app. Employers expect potential candidates to have interests and hobbies outside of their undergraduate course load.
Let’s think about it plainly. You and your classmate both graduated summa cum laude and are applying to the same job. Your classmate did research and completed two internships by the time they graduated (they’ve garnered experience) and you solely studied for your classes. In the perspective of an employer, your classmate is the better option (putting aside potential personality points in the interview). Maybe this is a reality for you and unfortunately you were not able to do anything extra or just realized too late the importance of it. No worries, there is still more you can do after graduation!
Here are 5 ways to improve your chances:
1. Graduate Internships
Many people have already graduated university with an internship, co-op, or research under their belt. But what can really help you stand out is a graduate internship. It shows dedication and a willingness to gather as much experience as possible before venturing into the career field. And some are full-time and paid!
Ah, an introvert’s nightmare. In reality, networking doesn’t necessarily mean walking around looking for someone to start a conversation with (it can be but not always). Networking could be emailing an old friend, colleague, professor, alumni and asking them about job openings, references, or any advice to help your chances in snagging a job after graduation. If people know you are looking and hustling, they are more inclined to keep you in mind and help out.
3. Side Work
Graduating with a high GPA isn’t enough when applying to positions after college. They already expect you to have good grades. Employers want to see what you do outside of school because that is what sets you apart from other candidates. This shows strong work ethic, time management, the ability to multitask, interest in the community, and so much more!
4. Professional Resume
Making sure your resume is clear, concise, and professional is imperative in making a good impression to potential future employers. Many universities and online services offer assistance by reviewing, editing, or providing tips on how to improve your resume and cover letter. Another way to share your experience is through online job boards such as LinkedIn. The job application process is very high tech these days and some companies will only choose to view your resume on a job board or through a personal website.
5. Mock Interviews
Interviews can be intimidating especially when there are so many things to remember. Interview processes depend on the company you are applying to but there is a general process to keep in mind. Because this stage of the job search is one of the most important, as this can be where you can really show your personality and experience, I will take some time to explain the job interview process.
First, is the application process. This can include your resume/CV, cover letter, references, sample work, and even a test provided by the employer (e.g., Writing positions may request a grammar test during the application stage).
Second, is the first interview. This interview can be with a hiring manager or the employer themselves. It can be over-the-phone, video, or even in person if the company is needing to hire quickly. This interview is to get to know the candidate and for the candidate to see if the position is something they are interested in pursuing. You might be asked more technical questions and be provided a more in-depth explanation into what the position requirements entail.
Lastly, is the third (usually in-person) interview. This is generally the final stage of the most basic interview process. As the second interview is more the “meat and bones” of the process, the final interview is more of a wrap-up. The employer might show you around the office, discuss compensation, observe how you interact and conduct yourself in- person, and the interview might be conducted by someone in a higher position. After this stage, you will likely hear that you will be notified if they decide to move forward by hiring you, you might be asked to provide more references or work samples, or unfortunately, you might also find out you weren’t the right fit for the position.
Mock interviews are the most ideal prep step before applying to any job. Most universities provide alumni assistance such as reviewing and editing resumes, mock interviews, etc. Take advantage! You can also search online for some basic interview questions or you might find some tailored to the position you are applying for. Have a family member or friend ask you questions and have your own mock interview. This helped me greatly and can boost your confidence because you will expect the questions that you will be asked and even if you don’t, you will be able to answer more quickly and efficiently.
Applying to jobs after graduation can be nerve racking but is also one of the best experiences and tastes of adulthood. Although you’re never guaranteed the position you are applying to, it is important to be prepared and bounce back even if you are not chosen. It takes time, work, and confidence to increase your chances. Just make sure to keep at it!