As a recent college graduate, getting started in the real world can seem like an impossibly tall task. You’ve got bills to pay and expectations to meet but little to no experience.
It’s going to be okay.
The first thing you’ll want to do is take a deep breath and start hashing out a strong resume. When it comes to your professional life, a strong resume is going to be extremely important. Once you can answer some of these questions below, you’ll have a good idea of the framework that’s going to go into creating a great resume.
What Did You Do in School?
Let’s start with your degree or certification. You may not have any real-world experience yet, but that degree you worked so hard to obtain is a fantastic jumping off point. Let’s start by answering a few questions that will help steer you in the right direction.
- Did you participate in any clubs, sports or extracurriculars?
- Did you complete any internships?
- Did you do any volunteer work?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you already have some relevant experience to draw from, and it’s going to look great on your resume.
Kirk Baumann, founder of campustocareer.com noted…
“The first step begins way before graduation. Find a mentor. Job shadow. Research. Intern. Build your network. Try new things. Those that wait until graduation are at a disadvantage!”
Do You Have Any Work Experience?
You’re fresh out of school, so nobody is going to expect you to have prior experience running a Fortune 500 company. The good news is that any work you’ve done in the past has taught you relevant business skills that you can highlight on your resume.
Do You Have Any References?
References and endorsements can play a very important role on your first few jobs. Since you don’t have much experience yet, anyone you can get who’s willing to vouch for you and your potential is a good thing. If possible, try to include some great references with your resume.
Before we can finalize our resume and begin the job search, let’s pause for a moment to discuss expectations. You’re not going to land your dream job as your first gig out of college. Building your career is going to take time, dedication and hard work. Now that you’ve taken inventory of your skills and experiences and crafted your resume, you’ll want to apply for jobs that you are honestly qualified for. As you get more experience under your belt, it will become easier for you to move up the ladder in your professional life.
Where to Look for Jobs
With so many different outlets, it can be a little overwhelming to begin your job search. Fortunately, you probably have some resources at your disposal to help you find your new job.
The first thing you’ll want to do is check with your school. Many schools offer some comprehensive job search and placement tools for their students, and they can be a very valuable resource for new graduates.
You’ll also be able to leverage your personal or professional networks in your search.
Beyond that, there’s no shortage of online services and job search engines that can help guide you in your search. Once you’ve found some opportunities that seem like a good fit for you, you’ll want to create a strong cover letter to send along with your resume.
Write a Great Cover Letter
When it comes to submitting your resume, a cover letter is the first thing your prospective employer is going to see. It’s also your best opportunity to stand out and leave a lasting impression. The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’re tailoring your cover letter to each job. It can be tedious, but this step goes a long way.
In your cover letter, you’ll want to highlight your relevant skills, work ethic, and your drive to continue to learn and improve. Most importantly, you’ll want to include some reasons why you’re a good fit for the job.
Keep in mind that in some cases, you’ll be applying for a job that hundreds of other people have also applied for. The more unique and interesting your cover letter, the better your chances of getting an interview for the job.
The Job Interview
Once you’ve sent out resumes and cover letters to a bunch of companies, it’s a safe assumption that you’ll begin getting calls for interviews. Now that your foot is in the door, you’re going to need to make a great first impression.
The adage “dress for the job you want” is always appropriate when it comes to interviews. Show up to the interview looking neat, clean and polished.
You’ll also want to further reinforce your image with strong, professional body language.
All in all, just do your best to present yourself in the best light possible.
Remember, it can be a daunting and nerve wracking process, but each interview you go on could unlock a world of potential for you. It’s exciting! Enjoy the process and try and learn as much as possible as you go.