Job Search Advice For A Recent Graduate

A recent graduate can have a tough time finding their first job and getting their career on track.

When I finished university, I found it difficult to find my first job. Through university I'd worked in a factory so I didn't have any office experience that I could point to that would indicate to a potential employer that I could do everything I said I could do.

I kept thinking that even though I was a recent graduate with no relevant experience, if only I could somehow convince potential employers what I was capable of, I would prove my capabilities to them.

How can you convince an employer what you are capable of when you seem to have no experience?

In other words, how can you get experience when no one will give you any experience?

When you are a recent college graduate looking for your first job, it can be a difficult time to get your foot in the door. Here are some suggestions to get your job search rolling:
    1. Start job searching early. Don't wait until one month before school ends to start your job search. When I was in university, some employers began interviewing and hiring right after the school year started. So some of my classmates who weren't graduating until April, had a job offer in hand before Christmas. No need to rush around looking for a job the next summer if you can get hired the previous year, right?
    2. Ensure that your resume highlights any relevant skills that you honed during college and that you demonstrated during your time in school. Include evidence of presentation skills, problem-solving skills, teamwork skills and other relevant skills that most employers would find useful that people often leave out from their resume.
    3. Look for networking opportunities that your college offers. Take advantage of all career fairs and campus visits by employers whether they are of interest to you or not. The college recruiters that are sent to your campus are often graduates of your school and might have some advice that helps you get your foot in the door with their company. At a minimum, employer campus visits are great networking opportunities.
    4. Ensure you utilize at least several job search options and ensure you do each of them well. Other than attending career fairs as mentioned above, use other networking methods, search Internet job boards, search the career section on websites of companies you'd like to work for, search college job boards and contact employers directly that you'd like to work for regardless of whether they are advertising a suitable opening or not. At the beginning of your career, you really do need to get your name out there to a certain extent, especially if you have no relevant experience yet.
    5. Consider working for free for a limited time. I've seen some recent graduates work for a company for a period of time (ie. 2-4 weeks) for free to prove to the company what they are capable of. The recent graduate offers their services to a company for free for a period of time if they can't convince the company of their skills up front. If you have the financial means to work and not get paid for perhaps one month, you might try this option.
When you are recent graduate, you might not get a lot of help from professional recruiters. As a recruiter, I find that companies tend to fill entry-level jobs themselves and don't always pay recruiters to find recent graduates like yourself.

Having said that, when I graduated from university, I managed to luck out by dropping into a recruiter's office unannounced and speaking with a recruiter who knew an employer who was looking for a recent graduate like myself. As a favor to the employer the recruiter passed my resume onto them. I got an entry level job with the company and worked there fulltime for 3 years.

If you are able to find a recruiter who is willing to help a recent graduate like yourself, it could be a great way to supplement your own job search if you have them keeping their eyes open for a suitable opening for you.

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