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A Step-by-Step Guide on Getting Your First Job Right Out of College

Finding your first job is exciting but at the same time it is also quite daunting. Swimming in a pool of many unknowns can be scary such as – what should you do? How to find a suitable job? Do you possess the right skills for the job? etc.

Breathe! Relax. Whether you are a graduate looking for a job or a final year student on the verge of getting their degree, we have got you covered. We have prepared a step-by-step guide for would-be graduates and graduates to make this important journey smooth.

Why is your first job important?

Choosing your first job will likely be the most significant decision you’ll ever make in your career. It gives you an opportunity to learn valuable skills and assists you in determining what kind of work you will enjoy which will prove to be beneficial in guiding you through your career path. There’s a possibility that your first job isn’t the one what you wanted to do, but it might be the first step towards bringing you there.

Proactive Measures for Would-Be Graduates

1. Comprehend what you want to do

The question people around you normally keep asking is “what you want to do?” Initially, you shrug it off but sooner than later the importance and meaning of that question gets a hold of you and you start to panic.

If you have a vague idea about what you want to do or if you have listed a few areas of interests you want to explore further, then it’s time to put these thoughts to task. On the contrary, if you are unsure of where to start, think about what you enjoy doing first like by taking into consideration the subjects / individual topics that grabs your interest or activities you enjoyed doing while volunteering for certain events, etc. Your answers to this ought to put you in the ballpark of an industry, if not a specific job.

2. Start early

In the final few months before graduation, start taking into consideration your future job prospects. Remember, that you are not the only one graduating. There are thousands who will be entering the employment market alongside you. In order to stay ahead of the competition, you must start early – Maintain exceptional scores or get an internship or get involved in volunteer work, etc.

Do a little side reading to get a better idea of how interviews work, what kind of questions they might ask related to the job you are aspiring to apply for, what is the minimum score required to apply, etc.

3. Make your own experience

Whatever it is that you want to do – just do it!

While in college, you will have opportunities to participate in events, join clubs or attend workshops/seminars, etc., it is wise that you indulge yourself in those activities to learn new skills. It will help you learn more about yourself and what you have to offer.

You can start pursuing your interests more openly to keep up or stay ahead of your peers. For instance, if you want to pursue a career in writing, then you can begin by starting your own blog, take up freelance work, or apply for paid/unpaid part-time internships online. You can then put those skills/abilities and experiences on your resume.

If you did not get a chance to work while in college, then you can highlight your key accomplishments, relevant skills, practical work during college internships, etc. on your resume.

4. Start establishing networks

Networking is important. As a would-be graduate, focus on meeting people at intercollege events or alumni meet, etc. This might not seem important right now but when you enter the employment market, these networks will be helpful. There are several job openings which are not advertised or listed on job sites. If you have maintained a good connection with people you have met during those college competitions or community work, maybe, then you are likely to find a job through them.

5. Write a resume

A resume showcases all your achievements, skills, scores, experiences (if any), etc. As a would-be graduate you must understand that your future employer is going to judge you based on your resume. Employers spend not more than 30 seconds on a resume, so it is up to you to make it worth their time and good enough to land you an interview.

6. Gather references

Round up reference letters from your faculty members, mentors you had during your summer internships, etc., before graduation day, for your first round of job interviews. There’s a possibility that some of your references might not be as good as you hoped so its safer to round up more than you need. Ensure that these reference letters highlight your skills and achievements.

How to Get a Job After College

  1. Write a strong resume

Write a resume that highlights and emphasizes your skills, strengths, education and experience. A good resume should have the right content in an easy-to-read format. Add a brief paragraph at the top that outlines your career objectives and what type of job you want to do. Avoid adding unnecessary information to your resume. Make sure to use correct grammar and spellings. Let your family member or a professor proofread it for you.

  1. Create a professional online presence

The hiring personnel is definitely going to search you online to gather information about you so if you have not-so-proud or just-for-gags images/texts uploaded on any social media platforms then you might want to delete them.

Update your LinkedIn profile by making necessary changes to highlight your skills, achievements, experiences (if any), interests, etc. Make an effort to stay active on your social media platforms by sharing meaningful and interesting content related to your field or area of interest.

Search your name on Google and have a look at the search results. If you find anything which is going to affect or minimise your chances of getting hired then delete those posts. When the hiring personnel searches your name online, ensure that the search results are impressive.

  1. Search for a job

There are many mediums available to find a job. Websites like Naukri, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc., and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are becoming quite active nowadays. Start searching for your desired job through these channels. These websites will assist you in searching for a job most suitable for you through various filters such as finding a job based on city, experience, skills, qualifications, etc.

Other mediums to look for employment are your college’s career centre, employment agencies, through your networks or job openings listed on company websites.

  1. Write a cover letter

The cover letter provides you a chance to elaborate the experiences mentioned on your resume and to explain why you would be suitable for the job you applied for. Prepare a well-thought-out cover letter based on the job description, company culture, job specification, etc. and focus on highlighting the relevant skills.

Write short and to the point cover letters. Do not make it sound like you are trying to sell yourself to the company rather prove to them, through your skills, achievements and/or relevant experience, that you are the right candidate for the job.

For those who are applying to jobs via emails, do not forget to attach your resume along with the email. Many people write the cover letter, well cover email (if you can call it that), and then press send without attaching the resume. Make sure your email to the company includes a short, precise, grammatically correct cover letter, resume and also add subject before sending email.

  1. Prepare for the interview

Take some time to prepare yourself for the interview. Read and understand the job description, study about the company – core values, mission and vision, history, founders, etc., also take a note of certain attributes they look for in candidates.

Before going for the interview, check and gather all your important documents which you might need to present – resume, certificates, marksheets, portfolio (if any), reference letters, etc.

Dress appropriately. Do not appear for the interview with messy hair or bright patterned shirts or worse, torn at knees/faded jeans! It is highly recommended that you wear formal clothes – simple solid colour shirt, formal shoes, and combed hair. Women can wear shirt and trousers for the interview as well or, they can wear kurti (as per the preference of many Indian women).

  1. Follow-up after the interview

If you do not hear from the company after the interview, then you can follow-up by contacting the company regarding the status of your application/interview. You can either choose to give a call to the person who called you in for the interview or you can send them an email. Keep in mind that this is just to inquire about your interview status, thus avoid asking unnecessary questions.