So you just graduated college, and you’re sitting at home staring at your really expensive piece of paper, wondering “Now what?” Leaving college, particularly as a 20-something, can be an intimidating shift. We’re leaving the relative shallow safety of our collegiate reef and swimming off the continental shelf into open ocean, which is full of scary fish like “finding a job”, “student loan debt” and “bills”. In what so often feels like a sink-or-swim situation (okay, I’ll quit with the fish metaphor), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but it is not hopeless! Here are a few tips and tricks to facing the job market.
1) Repeat after me: “A job is a job is a job.”
Not being able to find a job related to your Major is one the most common worries I hear from my friends. As an education major, I sympathize; I’ll be devastated if I’m not in a classroom next year. But most fields don’t have an undergraduate program that prepares you for and funnels you into a career; many require additional programs before you’re qualified for a job (I’m looking at you, medical field). With loan payments looming, any job is a good job, because it means a paycheck.
2) Strategize and Network!
Even though any hire is a good thing, be smart about where you submit applications. Look at jobs tangentially related to your desired field. For example, if you have a Health Science degree, look at service jobs within a hospital, like reception or call centers. Building a positive name for yourself and solid relationships with coworkers will make it easier to advance to a medical position later, especially if you’re just waiting on some additional certifications to qualify for a job. And don’t be scared to talk to people you know about your skills, qualifications, and interests; it may just be that they know someone who could help you.
And if those options don’t pan out, I highly recommend looking for work in food service. Stay away from corporate fast-food, as their wages are lower and hours less flexible than independently owned restaurants. Look for jobs that allow tips in addition to an hourly wage and be upfront about your schedule during interviews. Remember that even though this isn’t work in your field, you’re building a solid reference for your work ethic, building communication skills (i.e. customer service), and paying bills in the process.
3) Most importantly, update your resume!
For me, this is the most intimidating aspect of the job hunt, but it’s also the most valuable. A good way to start building a resume is through a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site, which means all of your work history, education, and other professional information circulates online. It also helps you build pieces of your resume. When you go to create a resume for a specific job, you can pick and choose relevant information that will really make you stand out to a potential employer.
On a slight tangent, always make sure you attach a copy of your resume to a job application. This is a very professional move and gives your employer more information about why you specifically are qualified for this job. This will help you stand out from the competition and demonstrates professionalism before you even meet your potential employer. Be sure to dress professionally when you come in to submit the application. It shows you take this job seriously. A good strategy is to wear a nice shirt and jeans (no holes, stains, etc) when you pick up the application and take note of what the current employees are wearing. Then mimic that clothing when you come back to turn in the application. You’ll fit the atmosphere even before your first day!
4) Stay calm, stay positive.
Adulting is a difficult and scary prospect. YOU CAN DO IT! Keep submitting applications, pay your bills, remember to wear deodorant, and you’ll do just fine. :)
Written by Mckenzie Candelot, Staff Writer -- Mckenzie Candalot is a recent graduate of the College of Idaho, with a B.A. for English Literature, and is currently working on a Masters in the Art of Teaching. When not studying for classes or blogging, she enjoys reading, walking her dog, and embroidery.