Here’s how to stop panicking and find a job after graduation
How to get through all of your “I don’t have a job yet” freakouts after graduating college.
Congratulations. After 17 years of school, you’ve graduated and you’re finally entering the so-called “real world.” (Because apparently where you’ve been living isn’t real?) Semantics aside, it’s time to find a job so you can pay for all those “real world” bills. Welcome to life after college.
If you haven’t interned or worked part-time or summer jobs before, this might be the very first time you write your resume, go on job interviews, and sell yourself as the perfect hire. Just a little scary, right?
But don’t panic, because there’s one thing we can promise you: You can find a job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for college graduates in December 2019 was 1.9%—that means 98.1% of college graduates find employment.
You can be one of them—it just takes a few steps (and isn’t nearly as hard as trying to hit 10,000 on a FitBit, promise.)
Here’s your guide to handling every life-after-college freakout and landing your first job.
You’re freaking out because: You don’t have any experience
How to chill out: First of all, don’t worry about not having a ton of experience. Hiring managers aren’t expecting you to have four years of experience, multiple awards and accolades, and a Nobel Peace Prize right after graduation. In fact, only 44% of the respondents to our recent survey had work experience prior to graduation.
They just want to see that you have what it takes to be successful.
You can show that even if you haven’t had internships, part-time jobs, or summer jobs. Share what you’ve learned from your extracurriculars and your education.
Instead of listing all 20 of the extracurriculars you were involved in or went to once or twice, share the ones where you took on leadership positions, achieved something, or learned relevant skills.
Margie Stewart, assistant director of the Career Center-Employer Relations at Missouri State University, says to decide which ones to choose by asking yourself what you learned and what you accomplished. If all you did was show up for the free pizza (because, let’s be honest, we’ve all done that), don’t include it.
You’re freaking out because: You applied to some jobs but haven’t heard anything!
How to chill out: You don’t have to have studied astronomy to get past the black hole of applying to online jobs. We’ll let you in on the secret to successfully applying online: It’s all about keywords.
When you apply online, hiring managers can search through all of the applications they get (and there could be hundreds) for the phrases and skills they want to see like “engineering” or “coding.”
Okay, but how do you know what “magic words” are being searched? Here’s another secret: It’s not a mystery like which roomie kept stealing your snacks. The answers are in the job description.
“Spend time reading the job posting and tailor your application materials to each position you apply for,” says Dr. Andrew Quagliata, a lecturer in management communication at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Use some of the keywords that are in the job description so your resume gets seen.
You’re freaking out because: You haven’t applied to one job
How to chill out: It’s easy to procrastinate when you’re anxious about doing something...or just don’t want to do it.
Remember how clean your apartment was during finals week?
Stop procrastinating, seriously. We’ve made it easy for you.
Just download the Monster app. Search our database of millions of jobs by setting your preferences, including the location, post date, and salary range.
Before you apply to any jobs, be sure to upload your resume (you can also do that on your laptop if you’re more comfortable that way.)
See a job you like? This next part should feel familiar. Just swipe right like you do on your fave dating app. We keep all of your convos with companies organized and you can message them right from the app.
Oh and did we mention it’s free?!
You’re freaking out because: You’re terrified of interviews
How to chill out: Once again, you’re not alone. The key here is to prepare in advance and to practice interviewing. Brush up on common job interview questions.
Anne Brackett, chief engagement officer at career-coaching firm Strengths University recommends asking a friend, career expert, or someone you know who regularly hires people to do mock interviews with you.
“A good coach can help you improve your answers, feel more confident, and make sure you’re selling the best of yourself,” she adds.
Ask the person interviewing you to be critical and to ask tough follow-up questions that you might not be expecting. You want to know what it’s like if you don’t get good vibes from your interviewer.
You’re freaking out because: You don’t know what your career path is
How to chill out: Does anyone really have it all “figured out” right after graduation? OK maybe like 1%, but even they might be faking it.
It often seems like everyone knows their ideal career path and that you should too. Or maybe you know exactly what you want, but you’re nowhere near getting your ultimate job.
“Think of your first job as an experiment, not a lifelong commitment to a field, position, or company,” says career coach Jennifer Davis. See this first job as part of the discovery process, or as an experiment, to see what you like and don’t like. “Good, bad or something in between, each job will provide data and teach you something. It’s truly a no-lose situation, because even if it ends up being the kind of job you’d never want again, that’s some great data,” she adds.
And you might be one swipe away from the right job for right now. But you’ll never know unless you get started.
You’re freaking out because: Your resume isn’t done
How to chill out: Sure, writing your first resume can be overwhelming. You’re asking yourself, what should it look like? Where do I start?
Okay, first things first. There are five critical parts of a resume: contact information, career summary, skills, work experience, and education.
Organize each section chronologically, starting with the most recent event and, where it’s relevant, include the organization name, your title, the dates of employment or membership, and the city and state.
For education, include your college or university name, your degree, your major and minor, any honors like cum laude, and your main GPA or major GPA if either were above a 3.0, and the city and state.
Pay attention to the details. You don’t want to imply that you are detail oriented then say that you graduated summa corn laude—ask someone else to review your resume and give you feedback before you start applying to jobs. Want some help with that? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Think of it as a metaphorical crystal ball to tell you what hiring managers will think of your resume. Now use these tips to go get your first post-grad job.