New College Grad Without A Job? Here’s How To Get To Work


You’ve worked hard and have crossed the finish line – congratulations! If you have a job lined up, nice work! If not, read on.

Four million newly minted college graduates will cross the stage in the U.S. this month, many without an offer of employment. If you were one of the fortunate ones, perhaps you landed a full-time gig from your summer internship or snagged a role through your university’s career center or job board.

However, if you’re still looking, don’t despair. Instead, try these:

1. Assess your market. Are you pursuing a particularly niche or possibly declining industry? Does your target market tend to hire seasonally? Do most people in this field have a particular credential or skill you don’t (yet) have? Figure out your obstacles and then set a plan to overcome them. You may need to get creative, take a stepping-stone role, or even volunteer your time to get the requisite contacts and skills, but it will be worth it when you get on the right career path.

2. Assess yourself. Are you getting interviews, but not offers? Are you stuck in online application limbo? Are you networking, practicing your pitch and reaching out online with little to show for it? These challenges are all fixable, but you need to understand the root of the problem, and then modify your strategy. Engage a mentor, coach or your university’s career center to refine your job search approach.

3. Engage your contacts. If your friends have landed, there’s a good chance those companies may be looking for additional help. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for assistance from others. It’s the way of the world and your buddy will likely need a career favor at some point, too. Also, realize that many of the seasoned professionals in your immediate circle – your professors, family friends, neighbors – all have their own valuable networks and can potentially introduce you to many hiring managers. They were all in your shoes at one point, so make a list and start reaching out.

4. Try a gig. It’s understandable that you’re looking to secure a full-time position, however, an effective strategy that many overlook is to start as a temp, part-timer or contractor. This allows you to get your foot in the door and show an employer your value, while also earning essential experience, contacts and cash! Usually, there are fewer hurdles to land these temporary roles and an added benefit is that you get to “try out” the company before fully committing to it, which can be important as you are figuring out what you want for your career.

5. Create an internship. Just because you’ve nailed your shiny diploma on the wall doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue an internship. If you determine during your self-assessment (see #2) that you could benefit from additional real-world work experience, craft a job description and offer to work pro bono in companies that are in your target field. While some organizations won’t be agile enough to create a position for you, others will. You just need one to say “yes,” and by the end of the summer your resume will be in much better shape to pursue paid employment in your field. This is a good time to tap into your network who may be more willing to help you land a project versus reaching out to a company cold.

6. Volunteer. One of the most beneficial activities you can partake in to build your resume, skills, and contacts is volunteering. In addition to the reward of helping others, you meet people outside of your normal circles and participate in tasks that you likely haven’t done in other places. Community service builds character, awareness and leadership and demonstrates to employers that you’re motivated and well-rounded. In fact, research shows that employers’ opinions of candidates were more favorable when they listed service activities on their online profiles. People take notice of individuals who are driven, positive, and curious, so the more active you are, the more likely you are to cross the path of a hiring manager who values what you bring to the table.

A job search is tough and you need to be equally tough to press on and remain focused on the target. Whether you started the search later than you expected, haven’t been as focused on it, or just have had some bad luck, it doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is what you do today, the day after that, and the next day. You can only move forward from here, so dust off and dive in!

Happy hunting!

Want more advice? Check out LinkedIn’s 2018 Guide to Getting Hired!

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