Table of Content
  1. 1. Polish and Improve Your Resume
  2. 2. Expand Your Professional Network and Connections
  3. 3. Work on Your Interview and Presentation Skills
  4. 4. Use the Power of Following Up
  5. 5. Brand Yourself Professionally
  6. Conclusion

5 Tips For Recent College Graduates

College is a time for personal growth, both educationally and socially. Graduating from college is a major milestone in a person’s life and a big step forward in developing their professional career, but college doesn’t always translate directly to being successful in the job market. How can a recent college graduate make the smoothest transition possible from the academic to the professional world?

If you have just graduated university, first of all, congratulations! Once you are finished celebrating your accomplishment, take some time to sit down and review some valuable career advice. We recommend starting with these five basic tips on making yourself an attractive and viable candidate for any future job position.

1. Polish and Improve Your Resume

Your resume is probably the single most important piece of information you will have at your disposal when looking for a job after college. It is the first thing an employer will see about you and it therefore needs to look clean and impressive.

A resume is a “living document” and job seekers must engage in an ongoing process of revising and adding experience to it, tailoring it for different positions, and keeping it up to date. It should consist of a candidate’s education, work experience, skills, and accomplishments.

Even if you’re lacking in previous work experience, mention anything that might look attractive to an employer. This may include volunteer experience, community involvement, language training, or any kind of certification, among others.

2. Expand Your Professional Network and Connections

College students tend to stick inside their own campus bubbles for four years, making it difficult to break into the professional world once they graduate. Nevertheless, there are a number of useful and simple ways to make professional contacts while you are still in school.

To start, make use of networking and career fairs. These may be organized by your school, local chambers of commerce, or other organizations, and make for excellent networking opportunities. They are also an opportunity to practice professional conversations, and get an idea of the hiring process of certain companies. Be sure to prepare some information about yourself, such as brief resumes or name cards, beforehand.

Keep in touch with professors who have connections in the industry you’re interested in. Some professors might have previously worked in positions that are attractive to you, or they may have moved on to work outside of academia. Reach out to them, especially if you made a good impression on them while taking their class.

If you had the opportunity to intern during your studies, you may have already created a small network of professionals who are familiar with your skills and abilities. Maintain the relationships you made with supervisors at your internship.

Another proven way of building up your professional network is through referrals. Although these can be a bit tricky to accumulate, signing up with Jobalaya takes the complication out of connecting with other professionals and getting referrals.

3. Work on Your Interview and Presentation Skills

You may be the life of the party and can carry on conversations with ease, but that doesn’t mean you would be a good interviewee. Presenting yourself in a professional manner is essential to making it ahead in your future career.

A key aspect of this is knowing and being able to understand industry terms. Even if you’re applying for an entry-level position, knowledge of important terminology shows that you are interested in the line of work the position entails and willing to continue learning in the future. You should also keep yourself informed of the latest trends in the field. You can do so by joining relevant Facebook groups, following industry-related blogs, or downloading apps like Flipboard that allow you to receive news and updates tailored to your specific interests.

Continue to sharpen your communication skills. The vast majority of jobs require that you have excellent interpersonal communication. Your ability to accurately and clearly convey information to those you are working with, maintain good eye contact, and use appropriate body language, are essential to not only getting a job, but also keeping one.

One last word of advice is to be prepared and know what to anticipate in an interview setting. Knowledge is power, so use online tools to gather as much useful information as possible before you step foot in the interview room. If you know who your interview is going to be, research them beforehand, think of small-talk topics, prepare questions that are appropriate for their position in the company.

4. Use the Power of Following Up

As a candidate in the job application process, it can be easy for your information to become lost in a sea of other resumes and cover letters. Sometimes standing out is not necessarily about what is on your application form. Instead, what you actively do to express your desire for a certain job can make you a more attractive candidate.

Whether it’s after an interview or a networking with another professional you just met, follow up with them through email! Following up with a potential employer shows that you are interested in the position, and expresses a determination that employers tend to find appealing.

Unless you’re applying to a very traditional firm, it’s rare for candidates to send formal letters to potential employers. Rather, email is the medium of choice nowadays. Read some practical steps on how to write a good follow up email before sending out your next one.

Bear in mind, following up is a delicate process, one that takes into consideration good timing, clear and concise language, and being firm without seeming too pushy.

5. Brand Yourself Professionally

If you’re the shy type or prefer for others to find you, rather than having to deal with the exhausting process of networking for connections, creating your own professional brand is the way to go.

Start by updating your Linkedin profile. A strong Linkedin page will attract other professionals and HR representatives. Become an active member of the Linkedin community and groups by asking and answering questions, posting interesting information, and making sure to add any and all career-related accomplishments.

Practice your professional pitch, also known as an elevator pitch, to relate your capabilities, qualifications, and skills to a potential employer in a short amount of time (i.e. the time it takes to ride an elevator). Make it succinct and simple, and interesting enough to hold the other person’s attention for that brief period.

Finally, consider what differentiates you from other job-seekers. What personality traits, special skill sets, or experience do you have that would make you stand out from the crowd? Think hard about this one as it might end up being what stands between you and that coveted job position.

Conclusion

Job hunting after college is probably one of the most stressful and humbling experiences that recent graduates will face. However, with the right preparation and career guidance, it can also be immensely rewarding. By following the five basic tips listed above, you can ensure a smooth and quick transition from college student to working professional.

Jeremy Olivier
I'm a writer and musician based in Taipei. You can just as easily find me curled up on the couch with a good book as you can bounding down a rural Taiwan mountain trail. I have a bachelor's degree in history and an MA in Asia Studies.