What is one tip for a fresh college graduate entering into the working world to go about choosing their first job?
Walking across the stage, hearing your name, getting your diploma–there’s nothing like those moments after spending four years of working so hard. However, the next step after that can feel just as daunting. Where do you go next?
To help college graduates with choosing their first job, we asked recent college graduates and business leaders this question for their best insights. From creating realistic expectations to exploring all possible interests, there are several tips that may help you pick the right job right after graduation.
Here are nine strategies new college graduates can use to choose their first job:
- Take Advantage of a Transition Period
- Explore Possible Interests
- Take an Assessment
- Use Your Life Experience
- Pick Based on the Boss
- Research into Smaller Corporations
- Make Your Application Stand Out
- Ask the Right Questions
- Create Realistic Expectations
Take Advantage of a Transition Period
As a fresh college graduate myself, I understand the weight that comes with choosing your first job. I’ve received a lot of advice on this topic ranging from “beware of pigeonholing” to “go travel the world.” From all my conversations, my best piece of advice would be to expand your options. The sky’s the limit! I chose to take a post-graduation summer internship that allows me to continue to build my skill set while also providing me with a much-needed transition period between being a full-time student and a full-time employee. During this transition period, I am expanding my career options through research and personal growth with the goal that when my internship is complete, I will have multiple opportunities within reach.
Adrian James, Markitors
Explore Possible Interests
My advice to fresh college graduates is to be open to working multiple jobs and exploring various industries at the beginning of their careers. First, focus on developing new skills and exploring your interests and possibilities. Ultimately, when the right time comes, you will have the knowledge and experience to make a conscious decision of which path you want to pursue in the long term. It is so valuable to look outside of the box and see your career as a long and varied journey filled with lots of opportunities and lessons. Don’t get stuck on the idea of having to find the ultimate high-paying job straight out of college. Take your time, get your hands dirty, and make sure you grow, learn, and evolve with every opportunity.
Kelli Lane, Genexa
Take an Assessment
Using an assessment is a great way to start your career, for several reasons. One: If you use an assessment that has gathered data on lots of jobs and careers, it can compare your profile to a job profile to make sure it’s a good match for your traits, preferences, and tendencies. Enjoyment-Performance Theory predicts that people whose personal profiles are a 75% or higher match to the elements of their job will be 3x more successful and satisfied in that job. A good assessment will generate a list of careers that would be a great fit for you, helping you narrow down your search and set yourself up for a career that you’ll love for years to come. Two: It helps you understand your own strengths and weaknesses better, which helps you articulate them better – and more confidently – in job interviews. It’s a great feeling to be able to say with confidence, “that’s one of the areas I’m still working on…but I can more than make up for it by leveraging these areas that I’m strong in…”
Jinnie Lee Schmid, Change Navigators
Use Your Life Experience
Don’t be married to your original life plan. Be open to wherever life is leading you. I probably would have entered the corporate workforce immediately after school instead of bringing my product to market if it hadn’t been for a twist of fate where I found myself, a perpetually hungry, 20-something D1 Athlete at Boston University, newly diagnosed with Celiac disease and craving dessert. It was the experience of realizing a problem I had solved for myself, the problem of not being able to indulge due to dietary restrictions and athletic goals, was also a problem I could for countless others that ultimately made me become an entrepreneur. I chose to actively follow this new path, but I allowed that twist of fate to guide me.
Rachel Geicke, Snow Monkey
Pick Based on the Boss
People typically look for the most money and loftiest title at the best company. That’s fine, but don’t discount the importance of having a great manager. Employees, particularly those new to the workforce, tend to emulate the behaviors of their leaders. So, make sure you are learning the right things. The right manager can turbocharge your career growth. The wrong one can lead you down a dead end.
Tim Toterhi, Plotline Leadership
Research into Smaller Corporations
One of the biggest mistakes new college graduates make is focusing on salary as the main point when being offered jobs. This can lead to not taking an offer that ultimately might have been better for you because it wasn’t offering enough money, or worse yet accepting one with too much responsibility and hours underpaid for your level of experience. Instead, work at finding positions where both quality time spent there will be satisfying as well as opportunities to grow in their career–these are often found more within smaller companies than larger ones so don’t rule out those just based on size.
Altay Gursel, Metriculum
Make Your Application Stand Out
As a fresh graduate, you need to understand you are not the only one in need of a job. Don’t sit around hoping a job will walk up to you after sending one application. Be persistent with your application letters and ensure you follow up with companies. Additionally, there would be many job-seeking applicants like you, so you need to try your best to be unique. Don’t use a generic CV format; personalize your resume as much as you can while highlighting your strengths and skills.
Hays Bailey, SHEQSY
Ask The Right Questions
Graduating from college and beginning my job search in the midst of a pandemic was anything but stress-free. However, asking the right questions about potential future employers throughout the interview process made the job search easier. You should ensure that you ask the interviewers about the company culture. This will enable you to find out if you are a right fit for the company, and if the company is a fit for you, even in a video interview. There is nothing worse than joining a team that you do not mesh well with.
Rachel Cohen, Red Clover
Create Realistic Expectations
Set realistic expectations because some things don’t always go according to plan. Adulting is a challenging world for fresh graduates. You may not always land your dream job at first try or directly get into your dream company. Brace yourself with the job-hunting competition and fluctuating market value of an entry-level employee; some may have higher salaries.
Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs