So You’ve Graduated…Now What?
As graduation approaches, you might be one of many soon-to-be college grads having night sweats over what you’ll do after you cross that stage. Maybe you’ve already explored possible career options, or even began applying to jobs—or maybe you’ve just curled up in your bed and watched every episode of Friends on Netflix and pretended the end wasn’t near.
It’s okay. We all have our own ways of coping.
But, I’m here to tell you that college ending doesn’t have to be a death sentence. I promise you will still be able to find time to binge-watch and take naps. Alongside that, though, you’ll probably want steady employment—you know, to fund the trips to the grocery story for wine and Cheetos. So, here are some tips to make your job search as painless as possible.
Prepare a Solid Resume (and/or CV)
You’ve likely had a resume since you were 16 and got that first job at the mall with your mom listed as a reference. But, now that you’ve got that shiny bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to step up your resume game.
The ideal resume will be concise, but thorough. Depending on the job you’re applying for, you might list only relevant job history and experience, rather than every single job you’ve ever held. I doubt that a marketing company really cares that you know how to sweep floors.
The CV, or curriculum vitae, is the resume’s academic counterpart. While there are no hard and fast rules on what a CV must include or how it should look, you might still want to keep it as concise as possible. As a graduate professional seeking jobs in academia, I primarily submit a CV in place of a resume.
My CV outlines all of my educational history—degrees received, areas of study, and any academic honors I have earned. It also includes all of my prior publications — in my case, a list of where my creative work has appeared in literary journals. My CV also includes relevant employment history (any jobs I’ve held that provided me with experience in my field) and my career goals.
Collect References In Advance
As an undergraduate student, asking my professors for letters of reference was mildly terrifying. But I quickly discovered that my professors were more than willing to help. I asked teachers that I had good relationships with who knew the quality of my work.
As an English student, I had the advantage of small classes in which my professors had plenty of opportunity to get to know me, but other majors may have spent most of their time in big, lecture-hall classes. Here’s my advice to those students: make an effort to get to know your professor, no matter how many other students he or she has. Visit their office hours. Put a face with your name on their roster. Do consistently good work. Show up to class. If you put the time in, then they will be able to make a solid judgement of your abilities as a student, and might be more willing to be a reference during your job hunt.
When asking for references outside of academia—such as prior employers or internship supervisors—these same tips apply. Make sure you’re asking people who have an idea of who you are as an employee and as a member of your field. Provide any potential reference with your resume and/or CV, as well, so they can make a more informed recommendation on your behalf.
If you have these references ready prior to entering the job market, you’ll be able to streamline the process, rather than having to pause while you wait to hear back.
Prepare for Tough Interview Questions
We have probably all been there: sitting with wide eyes, wringing our hands across a desk from an interviewer, unsure what words we should spit out to answer the question they just posed. Even simple questions like “Why do you feel you’re right for the position?” might leave us stumped if we fail to prepare for them ahead of time.
While there’s really no way to know what you might be asked on the spot, it’s still a good idea to have a clear, coherent collection of points you can make during an interview. Think about how you might answer the following questions:
- Aside from financial reasons, why do I want this job?
- What makes me qualified for this job?
- What skills or traits do I have to offer this particular company?
- Why should they hire me?
Having the answers to these questions already prepared can make your actual responses far more articulate and well-rounded.
Bring Copies of Important Documents to Interviews
If you arrive prepared with the necessary documents — even if not specifically asked for them — you might set yourself apart. These may include copies of your transcripts, degree, resume, and letters of reference. In the past, I’ve been to plenty of interviews where I had to later send over these types of documents because the interviewer ended up asking for them in person. If you come prepared, regardless of if you end up needing those things in-hand or not, you’ll look professional and organized.
Okay—so job hunts probably aren’t as fun as watching 12 episodes of House back-to-back. But once your hard work pays off and you land yourself the job you want, there will be plenty of time for celebratory wine and Cheetos. Hopefully these tips and tricks will make your entrance into the job market a little bit less stressful. Happy hunting!