The job market for recent college graduates can be very competitive. Openings in your chosen field may be hard to come by; according to data from the New York Federal Reserve, around 43% of recent graduates work a job that doesn’t require a college degree.
Stiff competition makes it tough to stand out, and you may need to think beyond blasting your resume to every employer on Indeed. Here are some tips for finding a job in your field after you graduate.
1. Define your goal(s)
If you don’t know where you want to work and what you want to do, you may find yourself applying to just about every job you see. This is not the most effective use of your time.
“Before you start your job search, create a goal of where you would like to see yourself, the type of work you would like to be doing and the salary you need to have in order to live comfortably,” said Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate for finder.com. “Once you have a road map to follow, you can search for companies that fit your requirements.”
2. Focus on quality, not quantity
Avoid the “spray and pray” method of sending the same resume out to dozens of employers at a time. Instead, try to find the jobs that are the best fit for you as a candidate. You should look for job openings that align with your skill set and employers that look like a good fit.
That doesn’t mean you need to find the “perfect” position. If a job looks solid, but you’re lacking a few skills, you should still apply – the employer might be willing to train the right candidate.
3. Tailor your resume
Every job application should be tailored to the job opening. That means you’ll have to spend some time tinkering with your resume every time you apply to a job. Pay attention to the job duties and keywords included in the job description, and tailor your resume based on that.
“When applying for jobs, make sure that your resume and cover letter are tailored to the position – don’t copy and paste and send the same document to every job you apply for,” said Dana Case, who leads the hiring process as director of operations at MyCorporation.com.
Be sure to check for spelling and grammatical errors – you don’t want your otherwise impressive resume tossed away because of typos.
4. Show off your skills online
According to a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, 59% of hiring managers research candidates using search engines. If you can show off your work online – on LinkedIn or on your own website – you’ll have an advantage over those with only a résumé. Make sure to share links to your online presence in your resume or job application.
“Put some work into developing your LinkedIn and consider creating an online portfolio to showcase your work. You’re an awesome candidate, and you have impressive skills, so showcase that in one convenient place,” said McDermott. “You maximize your chances of getting that first interview if potential employers can review your work in advance and determine if your skills would be a good fit at their company.”
Networking can be key to finding a job. College connections like classmates, professors, or fraternal and academic organizations could help you find, or land, a position. Local networking events and job fairs also offer a way to make new contacts.
“Students might be surprised by just how willing friends, peers or even professors are to help them in the next phase of their life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, or if they know of anybody who they can connect you with. A recommendation can go a long way when it comes to securing a job straight out of college,” said McDermott.
6. Use other resources
It can be discouraging to send resumes online day in and day out. Try to find some organizations that can end support. Your alma mater likely has career resources available to alumni, and you may be able to find some local job centers that can help you improve your resume or practice interview skills.
7. Become a freelancer
You already have marketable skills, so you might be able to put them to work by doing some freelance jobs. There are many freelance opportunities available online, and some may lead to full time employment.
“Freelance on work related to the industry you’re job searching in. If you’re looking for a job in graphic design, for example, take on freelance clients and do their design work so you can build up your portfolio of your work,” said Case.
8. Practice your interview skills
The interview is one of the make-or-break moments when it comes to landing a job. If you don’t have a lot of interview experience, you should try to get plenty of practice with friends and family. Make sure you’ve done your homework on the company, and ask questions specific to the position you’re interviewing for. The more practice you get, the more comfortable you’ll be in interviews.