Your plans for life after graduation probably include an awesome job — but getting one is not a given. Finding a job after college graduation is a full-time job in and of itself. The trick to finding the perfect job after college is planning and organization. Before you send out a single resume, pull out your Passion Planner and get to work on your job search plan.
Fit Your Job Search to Your Life Plan
Your first job as a college graduate can put you on the path to achieving your biggest goals, but only if you know where you're heading. Even Glassdoor, one of the biggest job and career sites online, notes that working out your career goals is one of the most important steps you can take in your career path. If you've already filled out your Passion Planner Roadmap, you've got a head start on the process. If you haven't, this is the ideal time to figure it out. Pull back and look at the big picture — where you want to be in 3 years — and then start working backwards to figure out the steps you need to take to get there. That will help you create a list of target jobs and companies to which you want to apply.
Schedule Your Job Search Activities
Here's another big picture tip — schedule job search activities into your week. A job search has lots of moving parts, and it's really easy to lose track of one or more of them if you're not paying attention. That's how you end up trying to fit in a rush trip to the printer to pick up more resumes on your way to a job interview. Create a job search to-do list, and slip the tasks into slots on your weekly schedule to make sure they get done. Not only will it help you stay on track with your job hunting, but you'll also get a glow of satisfaction when you tick something off your list.
Build and Work Your Network
Speaking of things on your job search to-do list — networking is huge. The fact is that some of the most coveted entry level jobs never get posted to job boards. You'll hear about them only if you have an "in" at the company. In addition to traditional networking, such as calling old friends and reaching out to relatives who might know someone who knows someone, build your own network to help you find hidden job opportunities. Look for local networking events where you can meet others in your target profession or company. Join professional associations and check their event listing and discussion boards for chances to socialize and network. The more people you get to know, the better the chance that one of them will remember you when a job opening might fit you.
Take Aim at Your Target Jobs
It can be tempting to immediately start filling out applications and sending out resumes just so you feel like you're getting something done. Resist that temptation. Instead, use your Roadmap to help you define a handful of jobs and companies that are a good fit — not just jobs for which you're qualified, but also those that give you room to stretch and grow. Once you've identified target jobs, tailor the rest of your tasks to aim you straight at them:
- Research each company and position carefully so you know the qualifications and what you can bring to the company.
- Tailor your resume to highlight the most important skills and experience for each job (Yes, that means multiple resumes.)
- Reconnect with acquaintances whose recommendations will matter most to those companies and hiring managers.
Stay on Track
Your Roadmap will help you decide where to apply. Your to-do list will help you break down your job hunt into finite tasks, and your schedule will help you actually put in the time it takes to find that perfect job. Once you get started, though, you'll need one more tool to keep you on the right track — a tracker that will help you keep all the details of each job straight. All it takes is a simple spreadsheet with a row for each job, and the following details:
- When you applied
- Contact names and details
- Scheduled interviews
- Any deadlines for additional information
- Your follow-ups (Did you remember to send a thank you to your interviewer? It makes a difference.)
- The status of your application
You can even print out a simple graph or use the pages in the back of your planner to help you stay on top of everything — and bonus: you've got all these new contacts who may come in handy down the road.
Finding the perfect job after you graduate takes time and effort, but these simple organizational tips will help you put your best self forward when you're going after the jobs that really matter.
Deb Powers is a freelance writer living and working on Massachusetts. She writes frequently about health, wellness, career and lifestyle topics.