More and more, a college degree is a prerequisite for employment. A recent survey CareerBuilder found that many companies have increased the educational requirements for employees.
In fact, 41 percent of employers look for college-educated workers for positions that formerly required only a high school degree. Employers in the survey said that a college-educated workforce leads to high work quality, productivity, communication, and innovation, among other benefits.
But just having a degree does not mean that getting your first job out of college is automatic or easy. Here are seven things you can do during college to heighten your likelihood of getting a job quickly — plus, a look at entry-level job titles, and jobs by major.
Here are seven practical things you can do to get a post-grad job:
1. Get Out of the Classroom
Attending college allows you to explore ideas and gain knowledge. Revel in this opportunity — take classes that go beyond the requirements of your major so you get a full, well-rounded education. (You never know: that “unrelated” class you take sophomore year could spark a passion that resets your career aspirations.)
But classes are not the only place you can learn — they may be deeply informative, but there’s no substitute for on-the-job experience. Nearly any job will help you gain hard and soft skills, broaden your network and help you discover what work you love (and which jobs you’d prefer to avoid). When choosing a job, look for ways you can earn the top skills that employers seek in candidates, including strong communication abilities and problem-solving skills.
As well, if you know what kind of job you’d like to have after graduation, look for a role within that industry — whether it’s a volunteer position, internship, or part-time job. Here’s information on how to find an internship.
2. Find a Mentor
This sounds very official. Don’t get intimidated! A trusted friend, a parent, or a professor can all make excellent mentors. A mentor can help you think through what kind of job you want, weigh your options for a part-time job, help you negotiate an offer, read your cover letter, or practice interviews. If you already know what field you want to work in after graduation, it’s especially ideal to have a mentor within the industry. (Perhaps someone who you met during one of your industry-related part-time or summer break jobs fits the bill!) But even if you are still figuring out what kind of work you want to do, and which industries interest you most, it’s helpful to have a mentor to think through your options.
See how to find a mentor.
3. Build Friendships and Relationships
Between classes, shared meals, study groups, social and cultural events, and dorms (for students who live on campus), it’s hard not to make friends during college. In fact, these relationships are one of the big advantages of attending college: you are forming a broad network of people, and thanks to social media, you’ll likely stay in touch with them your whole lifetime. These people are friends, yes, but they may also introduce you to other helpful contacts, or help you find a job. Prioritize building these relationships, along with your education.
4. Spend Time Networking
And, of course, do more traditional networking throughout your college career. Start by creating a LinkedIn profile: It’s OK if you do not have a lot of career information at first — that’ll come. List your education, and connect with people you meet (such as visiting lecturers, students who are graduating before you, etc.). Here are three reasons why a LinkedIn profile is helpful and tips for what to include in your profile. As well, you can create a Twitter account and use it to share industry news and follow industry influencers.
Semester break is an ideal time to ramp make connections, and ramp up your job search activities. As you get closer to graduation, go beyond the Internet in your networking efforts: Set up coffee dates or phone calls with friends who graduated a few years ago — ask them what they’d do differently in their job search, and what their most effective strategies were.
Attend informational sessions from companies, job fairs, and other in-person events. Follow these tips to get the most out of job fairs — and always remember to connect with people you met in person on LinkedIn and send a thank you note to any company representatives you spoke with.
5. Get Your Resume Ready
It’s never too early to write and refine your resume. You can write one your first year of college, and then update it annually or at the end of each semester. Every honor you receive (such as getting on the Dean’s list) is worth including on your resume, as are all positions you hold, both paid and unpaid. Review these articles to help get started crafting your resume:
6. Go on Informational Interviews
It can be overwhelming to apply for jobs right out of college. Job titles may feel confusing, and many positions will say “entry level” but also demand a hefty amount of on-the-job experience. Informational interviews can be a great aide to help you figure out which jobs are reasonable for you to apply to — and which ones aren’t. That’s important, because these are a near-endless amount of jobs posted online, and you want to target your efforts so you apply to only relevant, attainable roles.
As well as giving you valuable information that will help you target your job search and be informed during job interviews, informational interviews are an opportunity to form connections with a company and its staffers. If you shine during an informational interview, you might be considered for a position later on.
7. Check in With Your Career Office at School
Consider this one of the perks of your college experience. Your career office can connect you with alumni to do informational interviews, help you practice interview skills, review your resume, connect you with career tests, and so much more.
Common First Jobs for College Graduates
New college graduates typically start work in entry-level positions. For these entry-level roles, titles like “associate,” “assistant,” or “coordinator” are common. LinkedIn listed some of the most popular entry-level jobs as a graphic designer, account manager, and staff accountant. Your job options, of course, will vary depending on your educational background and work experience.