What to do after college? That’s a pretty big question to tackle, and really, the possibilities are endless. Some might consider traveling, volunteering, or even going back to school. However, an overwhelming majority will find themselves transitioning into the “real” world with “real” full-time jobs.
To help you along your journey of landing your first out-of-school job, I wanted to quickly debunk the top 4 myths of getting hired after college.
Myth #1: “All you need is a good resumé.”
Recruiting experts all seem to agree on one thing: although the traditional resumé is still relevant, it’s not the only thing job searchers need to prepare in order to get hired. Today’s market is more global and competitive than ever and simply put, it’s nearly impossible to stand out using the passive methodology of “write resumé, (maybe) edit resumé, submit resumé… wait for phone call.”
This is especially true for college students and recent grads, or anyone who might not have an extensive work history to highlight on their resumé. University Ventures Managing Director, Ryan Craig, wrote a very important piece on this topic and described e-portfolios as a game-changing solution for this dilemma:
“What students can show is their work. All 22 million students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities produce work for every course they take … papers, projects, models, designs, drawings, videos, code – any and all of which can be showcased for employers in e-portfolios.”
As a recent grad looking for a job, then, it’s important that you provide recruiters with more than just a resumé – regardless of your major! By presenting visual proof of your skills and abilities, you’re much more likely to impress them. In fact, research indicates that work samples are the best predictor of new hire performance. And remember, don’t be afraid to expand the definition of “experience” – consider your class projects, papers, extracurriculars, etc.
To learn more about how to share your Portfolium with recruiters, click here.
Myth #2: “You can only land a job within the scope of your major.”
Actually, your major might not have anything to do with your first job… and that’s entirely okay! This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as so many majors aren’t necessarily career-oriented and those that are, usually require grad school (pre-law, pre-med, etc.).
And even if you did graduate with a career-ready degree, maybe you’ve had a slight change of heart since receiving your diploma. Maybe all of those hours you spent in a lab as an undergrad only solidified your doubts about becoming a researcher.
If you can relate, check out this story for some inspiration – David Khim, a Growth Marketer for Hubspot, breaks down how he ditched his chemistry degree for a successful career in digital marketing.
Along these lines, it’s important for recent grads to know that their skills are needed at more than one “type” of company. For instance, computer programmers might not realize they can work for awesome non-tech companies such as Red Bull, Disney and Quicksilver. In the same way, tech companies need marketing, HR, business, law (and so on… ) employees.
Don’t get stuck with a one-track mind when considering where you can & can’t work. Expand your mind, expand your opportunities!
Myth #3: “Internships are only for college students.”
So now you know that you don’t necessarily have to pursue a career that’s perfectly aligned to what you studied in college.
But how do you go from college to a career you’ve never had? Especially when today, “entry-level” positions often require 2-4 years of experience.
Confusing, right? Considering “entry-level” is defined as the point at which job seekers enter a field with minimum required training and education … yet employers are asking for years of prior experience.
It seems as though internships are the new entry-level jobs. In fact, mega company Disney bundles “Students and Recent Grads” together on their careers website, offering both audiences “professional internships.”
In his story, David Khim also gives a breakdown of the bold steps he took to get to where he is today. His journey started with sacrifice and accepting a low-paying internship (despite having a degree in chemistry). He shares,
If we have an opportunity to learn, we should take it. We can’t expect to land a high-paying job just because we studied relentlessly … We’ll eventually get there, but we have to start somewhere, even if that means starting at the bottom of the totem pole.
Myth #4: “The best place to get a job is an online search engine like Indeed.”
Think of it this way, job search engines are great places to find out who is hiring, but it’s not a great place to land a job. Why? Because thousands of other candidates will be applying to the same exact job post, making it difficult for your traditional resumé to be noticed.
So, what can you do to really catch an employer’s attention (aside from applying with your e-portfolio)? Be proactive and reach out to them!
If it’s at all physically possible, first try to network your way into a company by attending any events they might be hosting.
If this opportunity arises and you get to talk to an important team member, find a creative way to make yourself relevant to the company – whatever you do, avoid blabbing about yourself.
Although networking involves exchanging names & handshakes, it’s mostly about sharing ideas & experiences. If you can give a potential employer a great idea for their company, you’ll definitely leave a lasting impression that could even lead to a job offer.
In person networking isn’t always possible but luckily, social media has made virtual communication efficient–and if done correctly–very effective. After applying to an online job post, don’t be afraid to reach out to the employer:
- Follow-up with a thoughtful email. Keyword: thoughtful. This means, avoid the awkward “just checking to see if you’ve received my application” email AT ALL COSTS. Instead, add value to your email – give them a good reason to respond. Can you provide them with an interesting news article, a resource, or an idea?
- Tweet them. David Khim breaks down how he landed his dream job by first tweeting a “tease” to an employer, and later following-up with a thoughtful email. Give them a head’s up via social media before emailing them!
- Send them a message via LinkedIn. That’s what the professional networking site is for, take advantage of it! Again, remember to add value to the message – if you’re taking their valuable time away from them, you better give them something in return. Provide them with an idea, or share a resource that you think they’d appreciate.
In the end, the candidates who stand out are those attempting to make real connections with recruiters–whether in person or virtually.
I hope that this post has helped you gain a better understanding of what getting hired after college looks like. What’s your next move?
Good luck and always remember, “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”