Most college graduates have one thing on their mind: getting a job, preferably getting a job in their field, at a salary that can help them start paying off debt, pay for bills, and maybe even save a bit. Doesn’t sound too difficult right? So why does it have to be so damn hard?
Now, there’s going to be three kinds of readers approaching this article. The first will no doubt be the bushy tailed grads, who raise an eyebrow at the 90-day number and scoff to themselves. 90 days? I’ll have a job by the end of next week, they might say.
Second is the grizzled job hunter, shuffling around in their pajamas and dreading another day of sending out resumes, getting calls from their mother asking why they haven’t found a job yet, and generally regretting going to college in the first place.
Lastly are the employed people who put a few years between themselves and that chaotic, yet hopeful time right after college. These people are perhaps already advanced in their careers, and they’re here to get a sense of nostalgia for those days when ramen noodles and late night TV was still a thing.
Getting a job in 90 days of your graduation might not sound that difficult, but just ask around. The job market has recovered a bit, but it’s still harsh when in the current environment, a BA will net you an entry-level job as a coffee gopher paying just above minimum wage. An entry-level job is what you’re looking for, but it doesn’t mean you have to settle for something that’ll leave you homeless.
Splash some water on your face and boot up your laptop. School’s out for good and the rest of your life requires money, so let’s get going.
How to maximize your chances:
Make sure your resume is top notch
The resume is usually the first point of contact between you and a prospective employer. They will be making assumptions about you based on your education, experience, and even writing style. If you want to impress, start here. By this point, you probably already created a few different resumes. Compare those to the templates you see online. ANY grammar mistake will cost you, as will a resume that’s too long, too short, too funny, too boring… but don’t fret. It’s easy to get caught up in perfecting your resume but what you really need is something that gets the point across.
Also have a template cover letter that’s easy to tailor to each position you apply to.
Get good references
References are important, and diligent employers will contact them at some point in your job hunt. You can’t just set up three of your friends as references (unless they are actually relevant to your job history). You need solid contacts. For those coming straight from school, this may be difficult as you may not have a lot of contacts in your field, or even job related at all. Internships are a great way to drum up references. You can also ask your favorite professors for a letter of recommendation.
Research your field and the job market
Just because school’s over doesn’t mean you no longer have to use your Google-fu. First things first, you need to have a plan. What field are you going in? What positions are available for you? What is the average salary of those positions? Where are they located? You’ll need all this data to help you narrow down what you want to do, what income you’re willing to accept, and where you should apply.
The key to getting a job is compromise. For most of us, myself included, your first job won’t be your dream job. It’s just a way to get your foot in the door, keep a roof over your head and food on the table. You may have to take a job outside the field you studied for, or in a position much lower than you expected. It’s okay! You have time to move up and find opportunities. Nobody expects you to stay at your first job for 5+ years. According to Careerbuilder, 45% of employees plan to stay at their job for less than two years.
F**k pyramid and multi-level marketing schemes
You’re bound to run into these while job hunting. They are everywhere, and you want to keep as much distance from these “companies” as you can. They’re pretty easy to spot, especially in marketing, communications, or sales. If you find yourself in a small room with 10 other people, interviewing for a job that mostly or all commission, that directly benefits only the manager that hires you, you’re in a MLM scheme. How these are even legal I’ll never know.
Get out and flip them the bird.
Network like you’re not an introvert
I’m an introvert with few friends. Even now, I only count a handful of people as being really close. It’s okay to have a shy disposition, roughly half of all people count themselves as introverted. Unfortunately, to really advance in any career, you need to get out there and make connections. That doesn’t mean hitting the bars, it can be wherever you come into contact with people. Playing boardgames with friends of friends, sitting down to a BBQ with distant relatives, going out with an old acquaintance. Ask around, find out who does what and how much they make. Find out who’s hiring and for what. In addition to making some friends, you also build a network of people, and that’s one of the most important resources in today’s interconnected world.
Fake it until you can make it
We all do it. Honestly, most of us still don’t know when we can finally stop faking it. Perhaps that never ends. The point is that if you’re feeling a little less than confident before that big interview, or if you’re feeling under-qualified filling out an application…f**king FAKE IT.
Keep plugging away
The worst thing you can do now is giving up. Keep going until you win, and take no prisoners.