Our Top 8 Job Search Tips for College Grads

By Vanessa Bostwick on February 12, 2010

Job searching during a recession can be a daunting task, so make sure you diversify your tools to include a variety of sources. Maintaining a positive outlook, even if it seems like you’ve run out of options, is also paramount. Here are eight tips we culled from job search experts that can help guide you in your search.


1.    Stay organized. Whether you use software, a filing system, or a simple pen and paper, make sure you document every lead and job you have applied for, including if you received a response or not and any relevant dates or contact info. This is especially important in case you are surprised with a phone call from a recruiter responding to your application. A quick thumb-through your files or a few mouse clicks can pull up the appropriate job advertisement so that you’re not left fumbling for answers.

2.    Clean up your image. Now that you are a professional job seeker, you should maintain a squeaky clean image, both online and offline. Dress professionally for interviews and always maintain a neat appearance. You never know who you may meet. Comb through your social profiles online and un-tag or remove any inappropriate photos. Censor your Facebook wall to keep unflattering comments or curse words away from your image. Make sure your Twitter feed is suitable for perusal, and that your LinkedIn profile is current. Record a brief, appropriate message on your phone and create a suitable email address dedicated to your job search and separate from your personal email.

3.    Talk to alumni. Many college grads have told us that their best referrals came from alumni. Check your AfterCollege networks often to find fresh contacts and keep applying for jobs at companies who tend to hire your alma mater. Ask questions about how they got their foot in the door, what further education may be needed, and if they can meet up for lunch sometime. Remember, you’ve already got a great opening.

4.    Volunteer. If there are no jobs open at the company of your choice, ask them if there are volunteer opportunities or projects that you could tackle until something opens up. Volunteering in your community can also open doors and fill in gaps in your resume during times when you are unemployed. Volunteering is also an excellent way to stay motivated and positive about your job search.

5.    Blog about your job search. Even if there is only one person reading (hi, Mom), blogging can be cathartic, especially if you are feeling frustrated with the lack of prospects. There are several free blogging platforms available, including WordPress and Blogger. Grab a laptop and start cataloguing your job search journey.

6.    Only apply for jobs that you are qualified for. If you see come across an upper-level position at a company you are dying to work at, resist the urge to immediately apply. Set up alerts on job boards until something opens up that is in your realm of experience. Recruiters have enough resumes to wade through, and about 75% of those resumes come from unqualified candidates. Keep your resume out of the reject pile.

7.    Be everywhere. It’s simply not enough anymore to apply for a handful of jobs on Monster and call it a day. Because of their ability to precisely target candidates, niche jobs boards are quickly becoming the favorite for both employers and job seekers. Dig deep into your search engines to find job boards that specialize in the field you are interested in. Search by industry, region, or salary – whatever is most important to you. But make sure you not only utilize job boards, but also social media, alumni, personal referrals, networking events, and conferences to broaden your job search capabilities.

8.    Stay motivated. Easier said than done, right? The key to staying motivated is to tapping into your support system for encouragement and advice. Be honest and open with family members and friends if you are feeling depressed about not getting a job. Find other job seekers on social networks and exchange words of support. Take breaks when you feel you’ve had enough, and if you can, reward yourself with a small present (a new CD always does wonders for me) like a cup of good coffee or that scarf you’ve been eyeing. Exercise, eat nutritious food, and try to limit your nights out on the town. Remember that being a job seeker is a full time job, and one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have, so it’s important to stay healthy and alert.

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