5 Things to Know When Entering the Job Market as a College Grad
Graduating from college and entering the job market is an exciting time. You have many new decisions to make as you search for a job and continue on the path to building your future. You probably feel accomplished now that you’ve graduated from college, but in the back of your mind you may still have that nagging uncertainty of whether or not you’ll be able to find a job in your field. As you work through this process, you can rely on Heavenly Father to guide you. Seek His help and direction through prayer, temple attendance, scripture study, and service to others.
As a college graduate, you have already started the process of looking for employment and have likely discovered that a job and a career are not always the same thing: jobs are the employment opportunities that should further qualify you for a career in your desired field or industry. Here are five principles to help you transition from being a student to a full-time working professional.
1. Do your research and know what you want
As you begin your job search, you should target positions based on research you have completed for the career you are ultimately seeking. The following are some potential questions to ask yourself as you identify job titles you are most interested in:
- What types of positions require my degree?
- What is the future outlook for those positions?
- What industries and companies am I interested in?
- Which skills are required for the positions I’m interested in?
- Which skills do I still need to obtain?
- What is the typical salary for those positions?
As you answer these questions, you will start to gain a good idea of what jobs are available and how those opportunities fit into your long-term career plan. You will also be better prepared to communicate to potential employers how your strengths can benefit their companies.
2. Have realistic expectations
While you shouldn’t lower your expectations, you should have a realistic mindset as you map out your career plan and start applying for jobs. This is why research is so important. Some graduates who haven’t researched their field expect to start making a large salary immediately after college; however, you will most likely need to work your way up to your ideal position or salary. While professional success is attainable, it doesn’t come all at once. During your education, you have gained skills and a degree that will open up many opportunities for you to succeed, but you likely have a limited amount of work experience. It is helpful to consider your qualifications from a potential employer’s perspective so you can better understand their expectations. Think of your first job after graduation as a new opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
3. Set meaningful job search goals
Goals drive our actions. Develop daily job search goals that will help you meet your larger employment goal, which you have set based off your research. Daily goals help you stay organized and allow you to use your time effectively. The 15-10-2 job search technique is a proven method to successfully find employment faster than you would with a normal job search. This approach consists of finding 15 resources, making 10 contacts, and having 2 face-to-face interactions each day with people in your network or employers. As you set measurable goals such as these, it is important to evaluate and re-evaluate your progress. Write your goals down and share them with a job coach who can help keep you accountable and make improvements to your job search goals.
4. Look for opportunities to network
It is important to remember that you can’t do your job search alone. Entering the job market as a college graduate is a prime time for networking, and you already have a large network of connections that you may have not even realized existed. Friends, family, people in your ward, classmates, and your social media connections are great resources for networking. Ask yourself if you already know anyone currently working in the industry, at the company, or in the position you are interested in. Take the time to build your contacts and create new relationships with the people you associate with. In your interactions with people in your network, be clear about your goals and what you are looking for. Use any resources provided by your college to network, such as job fairs and alumni events. Talk with everyone and don’t be afraid to let them know you are searching for a job.
5. Continue to expand your horizons
Once you’ve found a job, continue learning and setting career goals for yourself. Be proactive and engage in opportunities to learn from your employer. Ask questions, gain more education and acquire new skills. Employers notice those who take initiative and those who are willing to do more than the minimum amount of work required. As you seek to further your career, also remember to support and help others with their own employment goals. Continually update your résumé and online employment profiles. Build long-lasting relationships in your profession by demonstrating your value and work ethic; these relationships can help you in your current organization as well as in future positions.
Making the change from college to the workforce is a process, but you will succeed as you put forth the time and effort in applying these principles to your job search. Remember that finding employment is a full-time job and it requires work to find a job that will advance you along the path to your career. Good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who act.