Graduation from college is an exciting time in any student’s life. Barring any sort of “gap year” between school and work, finding a job is the direct next step.
However, landing a position as a new grad can be more challenging than it seems. Because you’ve just finished school, your resume will likely be fairly thin. In addition, you may not have much work experience from which to draw anecdotes, which are often asked about in interviews.
Still, you should do all you can to stack the deck in your favor. Here are a few guidelines on how to land a job as a new grad.
Go for quality over quantity
It’s tempting to submit a stock resume far and wide, hoping to eventually land an opportunity. However, this method typically isn’t the best choice, as you won’t have time to research companies you’re applying for very deeply. That will lead to hiring managers seeing immediately on your cover letter that you haven’t spent the time to personalize your outreach.
Instead, be more selective about the positions you apply for — with a volume of around 2-3 per day. By applying to fewer positions but taking the time to make your application stand out, you will have a higher success rate and deal with less disappointment that comes with rejection.
Treat your application-creating time the same as studying
Each application you send is important because it’ll be the very first interaction you’ll have with hiring managers. So, take it seriously. Strategies to succeed during the application-creation process are similar to those of studying: eliminate distractions, use productivity tools to give structure to your work sessions, take effective notes on your potential new employers, and schedule breaks to make sure you’re mentally sharp.
The time spent upfront making sure you’re effective with creating your resume and cover letters will pay dividends. So, see this as the highest-leverage time you have.
Impress hiring managers with your cover letters
Your cover letter is your first opportunity to dazzle hiring managers, who want to see that you know something about their companies and you’re excited by the opportunities in front of you.
Take the time to research each company you’re applying for. Look within and ask yourself if you’re really passionate about the possibility of working there, or if you’re just reaching out because you’re looking for any kind of job.
You want to show the hiring manager that not only are you qualified for the position, but you also have a healthy dose of enthusiasm for what the company does on a daily basis.
Conduct deep prep for your interviews
Understand that interviewers often ask the same types of questions, which will be further narrowed by the industry you’re applying for.
Before stepping into an interview, make sure you’re deeply prepared for what’s to come. You should assemble a list of common interview questions in your industry, then prepare excellent answers to them. See your interview as similar to an audition by an actor. An actor would never go to see the casting director without having practiced their lines. See your interview prep the same way.
Show your enthusiasm
We’ve mentioned that your work experience will probably be light because you’re a recent grad. However, know that oftentimes passion will get you far where your resume might fail you. Hiring managers conduct interviews because they want to get a “feel” for the energy of the person who may very well be their next hire. They want to envision that person as someone who will walk into the office every day with a healthy enthusiasm for the company’s daily work.
Passion is an intangible element, but it’s highly important because it shows the hiring manager you’re willing to learn even if you may not yet be an expert. It shows that you’re likely to stick around for a long time (remember that hiring and training can be expensive for companies — they prefer their employees to stay put for as long as possible).
Highlight your skills and how they will translate to success in the workplace
Just because you don’t have direct experience for a position doesn’t mean you can’t do it properly. Look outside the box and draw from all of the experience you’ve gained as a student. Consider your internships, club affiliations, school-related accomplishments, and personal projects. You can draw lateral conclusions for how all they have all prepared you to do an excellent job at your desired new position.
If the hiring manager knows you’ve had success before, and you can explain that success clearly, you can more readily demonstrate that you’ll be a hand-in-glove fit for the company you’d like to work for.
Getting a job as a new graduate may be difficult — but it’s certainly not impossible.
Don’t psych yourself out. Every person is unique and brings something valuable to the table. Instead of seeing your youth as a disadvantage, see it as an advantage. You’ll bring passion and energy to the table, and you’ll always be ready to learn all you can.
If you stay consistent, seek quality over quantity, prepare well, and bring your passion to the table, you’ll find yourself with your dream position faster than you thought possible.