4 Tips for Post-Grad Job Hunting

Applying for job online concept. Vector of multiple people applying for work position giving CV out from a laptop computer

As record numbers of Americans receive college degrees, the labor market is more competitive than ever. And with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the economy in unprecedented ways, the supply of recent graduates is higher than the number of available entry-level jobs. It’s safe to say that conducting a job hunt amid a global pandemic was not included in the typical post-grad playbook – until spring 2020.

Even without extenuating circumstances, searching for an entry-level role requires significant time and energy, sometimes even feeling like a full-time job in and of itself. The job hunt may feel discouraging at times, but it doesn’t have to be. We have some tips and tricks that we encourage you to try if you’re feeling burned out from the job application process as a recent graduate.

1. Think creatively when networking

Networking can seem intimidating, especially when you’re in your early twenties and don’t have an established industry network. Karen Wickre, author of Taking the Work out of Networking, emphasizes the power of meaningful connections. For example, if you meet a recruiter from an interesting company at a virtual college career fair, consider adding the recruiter on LinkedIn and sending them a personalized message, thanking him or her for your great conversation. Also, consistently practice your networking skills through “loose touch communication” with friends, family, acquaintances and former co-workers. A simple message such as sharing a relevant article or funny meme can go a long way. With the pandemic resulting in the cancelation of in-person networking events and conferences, now is the perfect time to keep in touch with acquaintances via email or social media. Keeping communication consistent and appropriate will make outreach more organic if you need to ask for a favor in the future.

2. Schedule informational interviews

After utilizing your “loose touch” communication skills, consider asking a person in your network who works in a relevant industry if they would be willing to conduct an informational interview. Informational interviews are essential in helping you learn more about an industry or specific company. Take some time to research the person with whom you are speaking. Come prepared with specific questions about the industry and notable trends, and always follow up with a thank-you email. Now, you’ve established a great contact that you can potentially reconnect with down the line if an opportunity arises.

3. Tailor your resume to each job opportunity

Nowadays, many companies use applicant tracking system software to automatically weed out candidates before human eyes even look at any resumes. Analyze the language used in job descriptions carefully and use your best judgment to pull out keywords to incorporate into your resume. Making these small changes will increase your chances that a recruiter or hiring manager will read your resume. For example, if a job description states, “proficient in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word,” update your resume to use these specific keywords instead of saying something more general like “skilled in Microsoft Office.”

4. Consider taking an online class or getting certified in a new skill

Spend an hour or two each day away from the job hunt and exercise your brain in new ways that also will earn you resume-worthy credentials. Try Salesforce’s free trailhead program or one of Facebook’s digital marketing certification classes. These are excellent ways to boost your resume while also giving yourself a break from the job application process.

Securing a first job out of college is no easy feat, especially during a global pandemic. There will inevitably be learning curves, setbacks and small wins that will eventually culminate into success. Most importantly, a positive attitude is key and will go a long way in your search for your first entry-level role!