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What to Do If You Can’t Find a Job After College

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Written by
Dr. Isabel Larsen
  • Icon Calendar 16 May 2024
  • Icon Page 2223 words
  • Icon Clock 10 min read

Finding a job after graduation is the dream of every college student. However, statistics show that college graduates do not always find employment, particularly in their specific areas of training. Basically, this reality is of great concern to graduates since finding a job marks the beginning of a path toward accomplishing their aspirations. In this case, it is of great importance that college graduates learn ways of increasing their employability immediately after they start looking for jobs after graduation. Also, some of the ways that they can accomplish this goal include letting family and friends know that they are looking for a job and increasing their exposure in the job market. Here, students should improve their social media presence and participate in networking activities, such as attending forums and joining professional associations.

General Aspects of How to Get a Job After College

The dream of every college student is to get a job after graduation and not just any job, but one that is within their area of training. However, this aspect is not always the case, as statistics show that a majority of college graduates struggle getting employed, and, when they do, it is not often their dream jobs. Basically, this reality is of significant importance to college graduates, particularly in today’s world, where technology has proved to be a serious threat to manual labor. With the number of students graduating from higher learning institutions increasing every year, each college graduate has no choice but to ensure they enhance their employability. In turn, there are many approaches that graduates can achieve this goal, but increasing their exposure to the job market is among the most effective ones.

Can't find a job after college

Today, every individual graduating from college must understand the dynamics of the job market as they determine their employability, whether in the short- or long-term. According to Forbes magazine, millions of people are slowly and steadily losing jobs due to emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and robotics. In this case, professionals in various fields indicate that these technologies are likely to replace repetitive tasks, which would free workers to engage in more meaningful work. Hence, this feature means that only a small percentage of college graduates have a chance of being employed in their specific area of training in the current job market.

Besides emerging technologies, other trends affecting the current job market are the demand for soft skills, worker flexibility, and harassment. Regarding soft skills, employers are increasingly demanding that employees demonstrate empathy, creativity, emotional intelligence, and the ability to collaborate and communicate, among other skills. For instance, a survey by LinkedIn showed that 80 percent of business leaders identify soft skills as essential to business success, with 89 percent stating that a lack of these skills indicates bad hires in their organizations. Regarding worker flexibility, organizational leaders note that work flexibility is increasingly becoming the norm in today’s corporate environment. On harassment, college graduates must realize that the current job market is not always friendly, as cases of bullying and sexual harassment occur across sectors and industries.

While emerging technologies, soft skills, worker flexibility, and harassment affect employers, some trends in today’s job market affect employers. For example, one of these trends is the need for employers to appeal to job seekers and not the other way around. Due to competition, organizations have realized that attracting top talent is essential in building competitive advantages. In this case, presenting attractive reward packages, such as salary and benefits, during the recruitment process is one of the ways that employers are using to appeal to potential employees. Moreover, another trend affecting employers is a demand for transparency in the recruitment process, where job seekers favor employers who are willing to come out clearly about the total compensation package. In turn, this knowledge is essential in enabling candidates to evaluate the job and consider if it is what they are looking for, or if they should continue sending out job applications.

Why Finding a Job is Important

As mentioned, it is the dream of every college graduate to have a job after graduating. Basically, there are many reasons why this is so. Firstly, finding a job is the culmination of a life-long dream of graduates. Also, it indicates accomplishment on their part. Secondly, finding a job brings joy to a graduate’s family members. In this case, most of who sacrifice time and finance to see their loved ones go through college. Thirdly, finding a job enables graduates to start servicing their student loans. Finally, finding a job sets a graduate on a path towards exploiting the knowledge and skills that they have acquired in their academic journey, contributing to individual, family, community, and national economic and social development.

The Odds of Finding a Job in a Relevant Field

While the dream of every college graduate is to find a job in their field of training, only a few get this satisfaction. In recent times, the odds of a college graduate finding a job in their area of practice are slim. The report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – “The Labor Market for Recent College Graduates” – indicates that rates of unemployment and underemployment of recent college graduates are substantially below that of non-graduates. Basically, this finding means that a substantial number of recent college graduates are unlikely to find a job, let alone find one that fits their area of experience. Moreover, the report shows that the jobless rate for college graduates stands at 8.8 percent, which is less than half that for all young workers.

However, the Federal Reserve Bank has reported that, over time, college graduates have better opportunities in the job market. For instance, it has been shown that college graduates – those aged between 22 and 65 – have an unemployment rate of 2.6 percent and an underemployment rate of 34.3 percent. Basically, the latter describes the percentage of graduates holding jobs that do not require a college degree. In turn, college graduates have not only a higher chance of finding any job but also slim chances of getting one that falls within their area of practice. Also, this reality supports the claim that the odds of recent college graduates finding a job in their specific professions are slim.

There are other reasons as to why college graduates have slim chances of getting jobs in their specific professions. Firstly, a majority of organizations prefer hiring internally, meaning that they consider their staff when new job vacancies emerge. Even where they do not get a suitable candidate, the chances are high that staff members would recommend someone from outside. Secondly, there is a trend where organizations are avoiding posting job vacancies in public forums, such as newspapers, and, instead, they are using recruitment agencies to fill positions. Thirdly, the high number of college graduates recorded each year means the labor market is crowded. Also, this situation creates competition, where a single job posting attracts hundreds of applications. In such a case, the odds that someone will get the job are very slim.

How to Increase Chances for Getting a Job

In light of the slim chances of a college graduate getting a job in their specific area of training, every graduate must learn how to increase their employability. For instance, one strategy for doing it is tailoring the resume to the position one is applying. Besides ensuring the resume is well-organized and readable, a graduate should match each job application to the skills listed in a job posting. In turn, this aspect is especially important in today’s job market, where organizations prefer job applicants to submit their applications via an electronic portal. Also, some of these channels have in-built Applicant Tracking Systems tools that scan resumes by identifying keywords matching the job posting.

Another strategy for increasing one’s employability is following up with potential employers after initial contacts, such as an interview. In many cases, a graduate may lose opportunities for employment for failing to follow up and getting to know about their options. However, delicate balancing is necessary since appearing too intimidating may spoil one’s chances. Therefore, the secret is for a graduate to create the impression that they are following up not out of desperation, but as a courtesy call. In this regard, a graduate should follow up one or two weeks after the initial contact, send a note of gratitude via email after every job interview, and consider whether the employer gave a timeline on when to respond when following up.

Another strategy for increasing one’s employability is for a graduate to improve one’s exposure. Basically, there is a trend where organizations ask senior staff members to refer to individuals who may be qualified for specific job positions to avoid the cost of posting a job via a public forum. In this case, graduates who take time to develop connections in their communities are more likely to benefit from such scenarios. Moreover, participating in networking events organized by professional associations is an effective way of developing social and professional connections. In essence, graduates can expand their networks by asking friends and family if they are aware of any hiring opportunities, attending job fairs, and connecting with influential persons in specific professional fields.

In summary, graduates have many ways of increasing their chances of finding a job in their area of training. For instance, some of the strategies include:

  1. Developing soft skills by participating in training courses. In this case, it shows potential employers that a graduate is keen on developing new skills and honing existing ones.
  2. Ensure the resume has links to one’s work samples.
  3. Make use of one’s professional resources, such as LinkedIn, to get recommendations.
  4. Continue learning to show a desire to stay updated about new knowledge and trends in one’s profession.
  5. Exemplify professionalism by completing a training course.
  6. Take up blogging and write on topics relevant to one’s profession.
  7. Ensure the resume cites the awards or accolades that one has received for specific work.
  8. Participate in professional forums.
  9. Seek opportunities to speak at academic or professional conferences.
  10. Write and publish articles in one’s area of expertise.
  11. Affiliate oneself with professional events.
  12. Look for internship opportunities.
  13. Take up volunteer work.
  14. Be an active social media user by managing one’s online reputation on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
  15. Become an active member of a professional association

Proving You Are the Best

As mentioned, today’s job is highly competitive for college graduates because of their large numbers, and one needs to increase their exposure if they are to improve the chances of finding a job. However, it is during the interview process that a graduate must prove they are the best among all the candidates. Also, they can do this by exemplifying grit and determination. Here, they should let the interviewers understand that the current business market is dynamic, and firms face resource shortages, angry customers, and even failed product launches. In turn, such an environment requires a firm to have employees who exemplify resiliency despite overwhelming disappointments.

Another way that graduates can show interviewers that they are the best among a pool of candidates is by exemplifying enthusiasm. Here, students should demonstrate that they are more passionate about their careers and not just the paycheck. Moreover, a graduate should show interviewers that they are culturally fit to work in the organization and different contexts, where employees from diverse racial, nationality, gender, and sexual backgrounds. In essence, they should demonstrate the ability to work in teams, work under pressure, and excel in interpersonal communication.

What to Do After Failing While You Can’t Find a Job After College

The sad reality that many graduates come to discover in their search for jobs is that it is not automatic that one would get hired after an interview. Basically, this realization should make graduates develop the mental fortitude to disregard temporary setbacks and reach for the prize. In this regard, the best thing that one can do after failing to get a job after going through the recruitment process is to retrace their steps. For example, one of the solutions would be to narrow their job searches. In essence, it is more impactful to focus on a few job openings and do thorough research on what is expected of candidates. Besides, such an approach improves one’s chances of getting hired. In turn, it saves one from the embarrassment of attending interviews without adequate knowledge of what interviewers expect from a candidate.

Summing Up on How to Find a Job After College

Based on the discussed information, it is clear that college graduates need to understand that finding a job requires creativity and not just determination. In turn, some of the tips that recent graduates should learn when searching for a job that is relevant to their specific area of expertise include:

  • Being specific on what kind of job one is after.
  • Researching target companies and getting to learn as much as possible about them.
  • Tailoring one’s resume to a job posting; that is to ensure the resume satisfies the interviewing panel.
  • Creating an online presence by blogging and writing and publishing articles on topics relevant to one’s area of training.
  • Building an online presence by engaging with other professionals on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Engaging in networking activities, including joining professional associations and participating in professional forums and job seminars.

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