For some, the job searching process is almost effortless. For me, it felt like a never ending nightmare of rejections and feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I never thought I’d feel that way having graduated with nine internships and my PRSSA co-presidency on my resume. The purpose of all my hard work was to ensure my resume was at the top of the pile, and yet it seemed to be floating somewhere at the bottom. In the end, I did receive two offers and I couldn’t have been happier. After my three and half months of job searching and some reflection, I’ve compiled some advice for recent college graduates seeking employment.
Reach out to everyone you know. Remember all those people you connected with at networking events (and have hopefully stayed in contact with)? Pull those business cards out and start emailing. Contact members of your family, friends, past bosses/internship supervisors, etc. Having connections doesn’t always get the job, but sometimes it does.
Follow up on every application via phone and/or email. It you don’t reach back out to inquire about the status of your application, the chances of the employer following up are slim to none. If you sit by and stare at your phone, you’re wasting your time.
Looking for a job is a full time job. Accept it. It’s A TON of work. For most of the three and a half months I was looking for a job, I spent my weekdays from 9-5 tweaking my resume, writing cover letters and searching for positions.
Apply even if you don’t fit the qualifications to a T. Most (like 95%) of the positions I applied for wanted 2-3 years of experience. I had two years of part-time internship experience, which helped me land interviews.
Stay organized. I applied to 60 jobs, no exaggeration. Being a very visual person and having a lot of spreadsheet experience throughout all my internships, a spreadsheet was the first thing I made. Make columns for the company, position, contact, application requirements, applied and follow up dates and a link. You can also include tabs for different regions/cities that you’re looking in.
Use job alerts. You will save so much more time if you sign up for alerts from sites such as Monster, LinkedIn and Indeed. You can use different phrases/keywords in different locations. You might only find one or two jobs from each alert that comes through your email that you will actually apply to, but it’s much easier to do that than to manually search for jobs every day.
Always send a cover letter and tailor it to each position. Human resources managers will know you don’t care about the position if you send a generic cover letter. Make it unique to the position and company you’re applying to. Also, if you can’t find the HR contact on the website, search through LinkedIn’s database. Having the Job Seeker account will really come in handy for this.
If you’re living at home, try to have a part time job. It makes it a little less stressful when you have some sort of income coming in. I lived at home for those 3.5 months, so I was lucky to not be paying bills, rent or groceries. I had a virtual internship that payed extremely well and I was able to do tasks around my own time.
Take the first job that comes your way but don’t settle. Your first offer is a big deal. Personally, when I hung up with the hiring manager from the company I got my first offer from for an admin position, I bent over and cried for about 10 seconds. And then I called my mom (of course). Thankfully, a week and a half passed between when I accepted the admin position and was offered a position with a digital agency in Syracuse I was dying to work for. Then more tears. Much higher pay, fun company culture, great benefits, and most importantly – doing something that I could actually grow from. Remember, looking for a job when you already have a job is much less stressful.
Negotiate your salary. This can be nerve wracking, especially as a recent college graduate. Chances are, if you’re like me, you’ve never had to negotiate your salary. But if you don’t try, then you’ll wonder if you could have been making more money. My first offer was for a full time position at $12.75 an hour and I was able to negotiate $13.50. Not a big step, but hey, it’s more money.
Wake up in the morning and find inspiration. It’s not easy to get up every morning knowing you have a boatload of work to get done and applying to jobs you feel are a waste at times, but you have to at least try because you’re desperate. Your time will come. Be patient.