Job market trends for recent college graduates are better in 2022 than in 2021. A job outlook report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed that employers are planning to hire nearly 30% more new graduates from the Class of 2022 than they did last year. The report noted that nearly 60% of companies that responded had plans to boost hires this year, compared to just 16.5% in 2021.
That said, landing your first job out of college can be challenging in any job market, so it helps to be prepared with some best practices to improve your chances of success. Here are four tips for new grads to land a job they want. (And be sure to check our our sister site, FlexJobs, to search for remote entry level jobs).
Approach Your Job Search Like a Job
Your first job hunt as a college graduate presents a perfect opportunity to set a schedule and structure that mirrors the work environment. Don’t just send out a few resumes haphazardly and call it a day—take the time to organize your job search systematically, and block out specific hours of the day for each task that you’ll do.
For example, while you may not want to spend a full eight-hour day seeking work, it’s not unreasonable to earmark four or six hours a day for this process. Your schedule might look something like this:
- 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Peruse job search sites and targeted company websites for opportunities. From this review, make a list of three to four positions you can apply to.
- 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Draft one to two cover letters based on the job ads you’re interested in. (See the step below on how to tailor each cover letter.)
- 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.: Take a lunch break.
- 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Submit one to two applications via online job portals or company websites.
Rethink Your Resume
If you haven’t updated your resume since your high school days and it features jobs you did as a kid, then it’s time for an overhaul.
While you may not have significant professional work experience yet, there’s likely more relevant, college-level experience that you can replace this with, which will be more impressive to employers.
Have you taken on internships, held positions in school organizations, or volunteered in ways that showcase your leadership skills? If so, list these on your resume. Online classes and certifications, conference attendance (either virtual or live), or business experience gained through college coursework are also legitimate to include.
Tailor Each Cover Letter
A poor habit that many job seekers of all ages develop is “boilerplating” their resume and cover letter—in other words, simply replicating the identical copy for each employer, changing only the date and the name of the hiring manager. This is a mistake, since the cover letter is your best chance to show the employer why you’re a good fit for their position specifically.
Instead of just duplicating the language verbatim in every cover letter you send, use the job ad to help you customize the language you use when applying to each position.
For example, if one position calls for project management skills and another requires strong communication skills, be sure to address these points independently in their respective cover letters. That way, the employers receiving them will know that the experience you describe in your cover letter is particularly relevant to them.
Don’t Quit Too Soon
It may be tempting to ease up on your job search—and quit approaching your job search as a job—once you land your first interview. But don’t confuse the victory of jumping through an initial hoop as scoring the opportunity.
An interview is a positive sign that the employer is interested in your experience, but you may still have a long way to go before you learn whether you’ve been offered the job or not. There may be a large pool of other candidates who are also being interviewed, so don’t count your chickens at this stage.
Instead, keep the pressure on your job hunt even while interviewing for a position. For one thing, if you get an interview at another company and a competing job offer, you may be able to use this as leverage with the first employer. Informing the company that you have an offer on the table can lead to a counteroffer, a higher salary, and a quicker resolution to your job search.
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