How to Proactively Search for a Job as a New Graduate

June 15, 2021
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Graduation is coming up quickly, and if you’re about to finish school, it’s time to start strategizing to make some big life decisions. Scary, right? This might be the biggest transition of your life thus far, but it’s ultimately just one small leg of your journey.

Instead of treating your job search as one daunting task, break it up into less intimidating tasks that you can accomplish one at a time. This is how to proactively search for a job as a new graduate.

Brainstorm

First off, start by brainstorming to figure out what you want to do and what you want to look for in a job. Consider a few different scenarios to give yourself a well-rounded and realistic feel for where you may end up in the next few months. There’s no way to tell what could happen, but it’s smart to go through a few possible options and goals to figure out a rough game plan for each. Use your brainstorming session as a time to figure out what you want next, and strategically plan your next career move.

Take a look at your transferable skills, figure out what jobs you’re qualified for, and do some soul searching to figure out what kind of job is really right for you. Whether or not you wanted to have a job lined up after graduation, this is your opportunity to take the time and plan your next career move so that you’re excited about it. Take control of the situation and make your next move worth it so you can start your career on a good note.

Update Your Résumé

Once you’ve brainstormed to get a better sense of what direction you want to take your career and what kind of jobs you want to apply to, make your résumé great and articulate all that you have to offer. You might not want to sit down and update your résumé, (yes, I know it’s not how you want to spend your free time) but it is important to do so.

Gather information about past jobs, internships, class projects, and other information that highlights what you bring to the table. This will help you create the most effective document to meet your needs.

Reach Out to Your Contacts

The ultimate way to get your résumé into the right hands is to use your industry connections. If you have a contact who can direct your résumé to the right person, use it. “Job search is about going beyond the résumé to get noticed. Real relationships with colleagues and friends matter in getting a foot in the door,” says career coach Alyson Garrido.

Reach out to industry contacts to let them know you’re about to graduate and are looking for new opportunities. People are often willing to help, but they cannot do so if they aren’t aware that you’re interested and open to new opportunities.

Consider sending an email like this:

Hope this note finds you well! We met [where/when you met] and I wanted to circle back with you and see how things are going. [Insert a question about how an event went or touch on something you spoke about when you met].

As you may remember, I’ll be graduating this coming [month] and am looking for new opportunities in [field]. [Company] is on my short-list of dream companies, and the mission strongly aligns with my personal philosophies, so I wanted to see if there might be any current or future openings I could look into.

I’ve recently updated my résumé and have attached it to this email for your convenience. Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to pass it along if you see fit.

Thanks in advance for your help! Please keep me posted on how things are going and if there’s anything I can do to return the favor.

Best,

[Your Name]

Leveraging your network is one of the best ways to find and secure new job opportunities. Doing so enables you to get your résumé in front of the right person and often helps you bypass large applicant pools, especially during the graduation rush.

Focus on the Quality of Applications, Not the Quantity

It can be tempting to just hit “apply” on every position that might seem like a potential fit, but instead of focusing on how many job applications you submit, try to create a couple of really strong applications with résumés that you have customized for each position based on the job description.

Often people employ the “spray and pray” tactic when applying for jobs. This term has become common among recruiters when describing a candidate that applies to tens or hundreds of positions in the hopes that someone will bite. On average, each corporate job opening attracts 250 résumés. This means that your résumé has to be outstanding in order to stand out from the crowd.

When using the spray and pray tactic, résumés usually don’t hold the specified requirements or keywords, causing them to get turned down immediately. When you don’t customize your résumé to each job, it’s clear that you’re using the spray and pray tactic. This isn’t an effective job search strategy, and it also doesn’t bode well for your reputation among hiring managers or recruiters.

Remember That It Takes Time

Ultimately, finding a job that is a good fit for you takes time. There are so many factors that go into finding a job such as company culture, location, salary, scope of work, timing, etc. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or dejected because your job search isn’t going as well as you hoped, but it’s important to realize that it’s not personal.

Finding a job is hard for everyone! Finding a job that meets your criteria and is a good fit for you and your potential employer is difficult whether you’re searching for your first job out of college or looking to make a lateral move as an executive.

About the Author: A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a certified professional résumé writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals’ application package and personal styles. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your résumé, style, and boost your confidence.

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This story was originally published on June 10, 2019, and has since been updated.

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