14 Best Tips Fresh Graduates Must Know Before a Job Search

Graduation, the end of a chapter in your life and the beginning of a new one. You’re excited about this great achievement, although you may feel anxious, scared, and even lost. You have more questions than answers and that’s understandable.

Job search in the current market has become more challenging than ever. But, as long as you’re well-prepared, it’s more likely you reduce uncertainty and find the process less stressful. Such preparation should start before the application process, so you’ll have the tools and confidence to succeed in job hunting.

Studies have found that professionals may benefit during a recruitment process from what they have done in the previous stages. This is the reason why we’re going to provide you with the best tips graduates must know before a job search.

What Fresh Graduates Must Know Before a Job Search?

  1. Take a moment to reflect on your value and life purpose
  2. Have a Job Search Plan
  3. Asking for assistance can be a plus
  4. An impressive Resume/CV is NOT enough
  5. Get familiar with Job Search Engines and Boards
  6. Networking is a MUST
  7. Conduct Your Own Job Market Research
  8. Keep an open mind and don’t limit yourself
  9. Train your soft skills
  10. Internships and Volunteer Jobs are good investments
  11. Review Your Social Media Profiles
  12. One positive thought can make the difference
  13. More education isn’t always the solution
  14. Patience and confidence, your key allies

1. Take a Moment to Reflect on Your Value and Life Purpose

Obtaining a diploma requires years of effort, so you deserve to take your time to reflect on your next step. The issue is when a new chapter in our life begins, we need to recalculate and set the new route, like in a GPS.

Thus, before you move forward with your job search, you should analyze your values, interests, and goals. Focusing on the jobs that align with them will allow you to make more informed career decisions. A good exercise is to ask yourself what matters to you, what kind of job you want, and where you’d like to work. By answering these simple but meaningful questions, you improve your self-awareness.

In this sense, you also need to review what you’ve accomplished during your studies. Think about your strengths and skills that make you unique. Depending on the path you’ve chosen, you might apply for a job that requires your specific expertise or you might try a new field that complements your background. Both ways are valid.

2. Have a Job Search Plan

After choosing your post-college career path, it’s necessary to design a solid action plan that follows a specific approach. An excellent way to start is by brainstorming, followed by a list of the positions or sectors you’d like to work in.

In planning, you need to define your career objectives. Determine what motivates you most and address your search in that direction. Just don’t forget to write down realistic goals. Also, include a calendar of activities. Break your job search down into specific tasks such as writing Resumes/CVs, practicing for interviews, etc. In this way, you can manage your time, register your applications, and track your progress.

Likewise, try to create a routine that works for you and makes your job search easier. Design a plan A, B, and even D. We have learned from the pandemic how things can change unexpectedly, especially in the job market. And remember you can always adjust your career plan along the way.

Monthly Planner Notebook for job search
Set the number of applications and networking activities you’ll complete weekly or monthly, dates to apply, etc. Source: 2H Media / Unsplash

3. Asking for Assistance Can Be a Plus

Sometimes, self-reflection is not enough. You might need extra help to learn more about certain industries. In this sense,

  • Ask for advice in the fields you want to work;
  • Learn what else you need to land that first job;
  • Seek out experts to guide your career journey.

Moreover, academic advising centers or professors are good options to identify opportunities to approach professionals in your industry. University staff also has knowledge about various vacancies, job fairs, and skill-building workshops that can help you.

There are different sources, choose which suits you the most. Don’t be shy of asking for help. This actually shows your interest in being well prepared before starting your professional path. Keep in mind these are only suggestions. You can consider some of them to guide you, but in the end, the decision is yours.

4. An Impressive Resume/CV Is NOT Enough

Most of the young graduates are obsessed with writing an impactful resume. It’s true, it should be attractive as it’s your first business card. Still, it isn’t the only element employers will assess.

You must focus on creating a concise and simple document that highlights your background and skills. This is why content is key in the digital age. Most of the companies use ATS software to filter applications. So, be mindful of those tools.

5. Get Familiar with Job Search Engines and Boards

Take advantage of free job-search tools. Although, you need to optimize your online search first, and learn how to upload your application documents. It may seem like a piece of cake, but you must be able to navigate properly through their system.

Make a list of job search sites to expand your options. You must know the available platforms and how to use them to your benefit. Although, in some cases, you only have to go directly to companies or organizations’ official websites and find out about vacant positions.

6. Networking Is a MUST

For scholars, college students would benefit from training and practice on how to build a valuable network in professional settings. So, networking is one of the things graduates must know before a job search. Use this network to know your target companies. Trust me, you’ll face many challenges conducting a job search without networking as more and more positions are being filled without advertising.

I know this can be difficult if you aren’t a social person but get out of your comfort zone. Remember this is for professional purposes. A great start is joining various communities and participating in meetups.

You can also socialize with your mentors, friends, or even relatives that work in your field. Have lunch with people who do the thing you want to do. Another way is to get involved in your alma mater’s alumni events or join relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups.

Networking is one of the things graduates must know before a job search. (A company's representative talking to a young man in a fair.
Before job hunting, start building your professional network. Source: Evangeline Shaw / Unsplash

7. Conduct Your Own Job Market Research

When looking for a new job, do research into the demands of the industry you want to work in. This will give you a better understanding of the job you are looking for. But, how do you do it?

  • First, explore your career options. Find out who is hiring and what they require. One way to do so is by participating in career fairs.
  • Visit social media pages and job search sites to scout for hiring advertisements.
  • Browsing the companies’ websites you’re interested in. Learn about its values, services, and work culture.
  • Enhance your knowledge of the various industries in the job market. You need to ensure that your skills and values suit the industry you plan to work in.
  • Learn more about the scope, expectations, and challenges of your target job by connecting with professionals in similar positions in that industry (Tip #6).
  • Investigate your work rights and compare average salaries across industries. This will help you prepare for upcoming negotiations during job interviews.

8. Keep an Open Mind and Don’t Limit Yourself

After the pandemic, a considerable percentage of positions are being reduced to freelance or part-time. So, you must be able to adapt to the market trends.

What’s more, don’t be like the majority of fresh graduates that think they are limited to the field they studied. Your degree will certainly help you land a job in a specific industry, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to one field.

Diversify not only your skills but also your options. This is the best moment to try out different roles. Maybe you won’t find the exact job you’re looking for, but you’ll be able to open yourself up to new things, including entrepreneurial projects.

9. Train Your Soft Skills

Academic studies suggest that another thing graduates must know before a job search is that many employers place a high value on soft skills. Sometimes, they care more about them than technical skills or experience. Saying this, more opportunities to develop soft skill competencies, specifically communication and self-management may help your college-to-work transition.

University activities such as on-campus job fairs or workshops help students along the path of goal clarification and the job search process. Whether you have access to such activities or not, never it’s late to start learning new skills on your own.

Now, the first thing you need to do is to check your skillset. If your skillset doesn’t match the in-demand skills of the positions you’re interested in, then, take up training courses to bridge the gap. Also, focus on installing different mindsets. If you have a mindset of learning you’ll keep mastering skills required to do any job in the future.

10. Internships and Volunteer Jobs Are Good Investments

You should never stop learning. Internships, volunteer jobs, or seasonal work are good options to gain more experience – and some money. This would translate into being able to land more job opportunities over time. These programs also help you fill the gaps in your skillset.

In addition, many entry-level jobs require at least one year of relevant experience. Internships help you to gain the prerequisite experience and valuable exposure. If the company has available vacancies, this will be an excellent way to get a formal job.

11. Review Your Social Media Profiles

Companies often look at candidates’ social media profiles before hiring. This is called “social sleuthing” and has become standard recruiting practice. Before starting your job search, check your posts and verify if there’s questionable content that should be set as private.

Of course, your social accounts are for your personal use, but their content can say a lot about you. On the other hand, build a strong LinkedIn profile and catalog your achievements. Learn how to brand yourself on social media and manage your reputation online.

LinkedIn for job search
Use social media in your favor to highlight your skills and values. Source: Souvik Banerjee / Unsplash

12. One Positive Thought Can Make the Difference

You might hear about the law of attraction. This is a philosophy suggesting that positive thoughts bring positive outcomes and the same happens with negative thoughts.

While you’re getting ready to start job-hunting, your aptitude matters. It’s ok to be nervous. But you know what? You’ve people around you and countless tools to help you land on this path. So, motivate yourself.

Don’t underestimate what a positive mindset can do for you. More self-confident and positive attitudes towards job search initiatives reflect in your behavior, abilities, ambition, and awareness about job opportunities.

13. More Education Isn’t Always the Solution

Each graduate’s career path is different. What works for one person may not work for others. In some cases, a second degree means a better job or takes you to your final destination. In some others, you simply need specialized courses to boost your soft skills.

Thus, map out your career plan before you sign up for a postgraduate course. Don’t get obsessed with collecting diplomas. Invest your time and money in adding new knowledge that can positively influence your life.

14. Patience and Confidence, Your Key Allies

The last thing you must know is that patience is the key to job searching. You may have to send out hundreds of resumes before getting the first interview, or may not. The issue is you must keep going and never stop trying.

You also need to be confident enough to accept rejections and humble enough to receive grants. Take into account that in the job market, there are ups and downs, and from now on you should learn how to deal with it.

It’s a lot of information to process, I know it. So, take your time to analyze each aspect and then you’ll be able to move forward. Applying to jobs requires time and effort, but as long as you trust yourself and keep in mind your ultimate goal, all will be fine.

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