15 Suggestions to Help You Find Your First Job After College

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably fresh out of college or just about to graduate. Congratulations are in order, of course. Completing a degree is a major accomplishment, and you should be incredibly proud of the hard work you’ve put in. Searching for your first “adult job” is an exciting rite of passage, but it can also bring anxiety and apprehension. You may not know where to look, what kind of jobs to apply for, or how to put together a resume that best highlights your qualifications. 

However, the fact that you’re on this page means you’re thinking about the future and taking steps to ensure your smooth transition from academic life to the world of work. This sort of preparation is the first step to a fruitful career.

While it can be tough out there for new entrants into the labor force, it’s best to do your research and resist the temptation to jump at the first job offer you receive. Study the list below to get a feel for where to look. By using a variety of resources, you’ll be able to cast a wide net and land a job you’ll love.

Job boards

  1. College Grad. This is a great resource for anyone who isn’t sure where to begin their job search. CollegeGrad is aimed at soon-to-be and recent college graduates looking for internships or entry-level positions. This website also hosts information about various careers, graduate school, and many other topics that may be relevant to you as you embark on a job hunt. You can search by location, industry, level, or title, which gives you lots of control in finding the most suitable positions for you.
  2. USA Jobs. USAJobs is a must for those who want to apply for a position with the federal government. If you’re interested in a civil service career, this is the place to check. It contains a subsite that features information about the Federal Pathways Program as well as other fellowship and employment opportunities specifically for students and recent graduates. Federal jobs are coveted and for good reason—they tend to be stable and well-paid. However, it’s a competitive field and requires a far more in-depth resume than conventional jobs, so be sure to do your research to maximize your chances of landing a job with the government.

    3. FlexJobs. Though the listings on FlexJobs aren’t geared specifically toward recent graduates, this may be a good option to consider. This is the largest hub for remote, hybrid, and flexible jobs, making it ideal for anyone uncertain about where they want to live or keen to work from home. This is especially beneficial for recent graduates who haven’t yet mapped out their life and want some flexibility. Unfortunately, applying for jobs through this website requires a paid subscription. On the other hand, it also means you won’t waste time replying to scammy ads.
  3. “Regular” job search sites. Portals such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and Monster fall into this category. These sites offer a mix of vacancy postings, including entry-level jobs alongside positions that require more experience. The advantage of such job boards is that they are also great sources of information—depending on which site you use, you can view salary range predictions, read reviews of potential employers, and look up statistics about how responsive they are to applications. If your heart is set on a career in tech or a position with a startup, a good option is AngelList Talent. In case you’re feeling lucky or simply want to start big, you could check out Ladders. Explore a range of sites to expand your options.

Social networking sites

  1. LinkedIn. Though not a job posting site per se, LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking platform, making it an important resource for new graduates. Upward of 90% of employers report using LinkedIn to recruit new workers, so recent graduates would be wise to create a profile when they start their job search. Not only do hiring managers tend to check the LinkedIn profiles of candidates, but job seekers can also use the platform to expand their network, opening themselves up to great opportunities.  

Be sure to use appropriate language and make your profile as professional as possible. If you’re uncertain about what to put in it or would like someone to review what you’ve already got, consider hiring a specialist to review your profile and give you feedback. The devil’s in the details, as they say, and having a professional polish your profile can get you much closer to landing your first job. LinkedIn also hosts a subsite that only lists openings for entry-level jobs. As with other job boards, you can opt to receive notifications about new opportunities as they’re posted.

  1. Conventional social networks. Social networking sites such as Instagram or Twitter can also aid you in your job search. These are powerful platforms for spreading and gathering information, allowing you to leverage a broad base of acquaintances, friends, and family members to find job openings. Use your social media accounts to announce that you’re looking for a job after graduation—many people have found fulfilling work this way. Whether your friends on the network tip you off to a great job or you connect with other professionals who help you land a new position, social media can be a powerful tool for job seekers.

You can also turn to these networks to learn more about a potential employer. Ask if anyone works for a company where you have an interview lined up to get a sense of whether you want to start there. You can also gather important information about company values, keywords to include in your resume, or qualities a particular employer is looking for in a new recruit. You can use this knowledge to your advantage during an interview. 

It's also important to clean up your social media presence. Employers will often check your social media accounts during the hiring process, and questionable photographs or posts could cost you a job. It’s true that what you do on your own time is your own business, but if all your pictures make you seem like a party animal, you may be wrecking your employment prospects. You also don’t want inflammatory posts or controversial takes scaring a recruiter off.

Professional services

  1. Career coaching. Career coaches can be a valuable resource when you’re grappling with the sometimes confusing experience of landing your first job after college. These professionals offer support and advice and can help you throughout your early career as you navigate challenging relationships and work responsibilities. They can also aid you in identifying your long-term career goals and guide you through the steps you need to take now to accomplish those goals. You can work with a coach virtually or in person. If you’d prefer to meet face to face, conduct an internet search to locate career coaching services in your area. It’s important to note that these services are generally not free, so it does require an up-front investment. However, this can be money well spent, even if you only use a career coach to get your foot in the door. It’s an investment in your future career.
  2. Resume writing and editing services. Having a team of experts write or review your resume can give your application a polished and professional look that will set you apart from other recent graduates. Spelling and grammar errors prevent many applications from making it past the initial review—hiring managers generally toss a resume aside immediately upon encountering a typo or an obvious grammatical error. Experts estimate that submitting a professionally written resume can increase your chances of landing a job by 40%. 

More informal resources

  1. Networking groups. These groups can meet online or in person. Search for local networking groups in your industry or consider using a site like Meetup.com to join a group geared toward young professionals. Attending these meetings can be a great way to connect with other people in similar circumstances and potentially lead to unexpected employment opportunities. Even if you don’t get your first job as a result of these connections, a strong professional network will serve you throughout your career, helping you lead a more fruitful work life. 
  2. Your friends and family. This is one of the best resources you can use to find an entry-level position. Word of mouth is often how job seekers learn about career opportunities, and people who are invested in your success will be eager to help you. Send an email or call to let those closest to you know that you’re looking for a job. If any of your friends or family are employed at a company you’re interested in, they can even vouch for you to their employer, which gives you a huge advantage over other applicants.
  3. Networking events for industry professionals. Many trade organizations hold networking events to connect recent graduates with job openings in their industry. If you’ve earned a degree in marketing, for example, you can join your local chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and attend meetings to connect with other marketing professionals. Many of these organizations have events exclusively focused on helping new graduates find their first job. Events like these also offer great networking opportunities, even if they don’t pan out in terms of job offers.
  4. Career fairs. The institution where you obtained your degree likely holds job fairs to connect soon-to-be graduates with potential employers. Even if you’ve already graduated, you’ll probably be able to participate. Since these events are specifically held for graduates or soon-to-be graduates of your university, any companies present clearly value a degree from your school.

Also, keep an eye out for job or career expos open to the public. These are held in most cities, and some of them are organized specifically for those seeking entry-level positions. Such events present great opportunities not only to meet with companies interested in hiring you but also to connect with job seekers at all career stages. Make it a point to talk to the other attendees and representatives from organizations that are looking to hire you. You might end up expanding your professional network in addition to snagging a job.

  1. Google Alerts. If you’re interested in working at a particular company, set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever new positions are listed by that company. You can also adjust your settings to get news about the company, which can be helpful as you prepare for an interview. Indeed, you should always research a company before interviewing with it, not only to impress the interviewer but also to ensure that you do want to work there.

Related resources

  1. Cost-of-living calculator. If you’re thinking of relocating from your current area, a cost-of-living calculator can help you decide where it makes sense to apply for jobs. Look up average entry-level salaries in your industry in a place you’re considering moving to, and use the calculator to determine if you can afford the kind of lifestyle you want in that city. If your desired destination has a higher cost of living than your current location, the generous salaries there may not be enough to justify a move.
  2. Freelance sites. Freelancing can be a great way to earn some money on the side while you’re looking for steady work. You can also use it to supplement the income you make in your first full-time position, if needed. Sites like Upwork can provide you with freelance gigs that don’t require you to commit to a full-time position. Don’t forget that you can include your freelancing experience on your resume.

Use these suggestions as a guide to start your search for a great entry-level job. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and don’t be afraid to use unconventional means to bag your first job. Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part, so be sure to use whatever resources you have available. Our team of skilled professionals stands ready to help you, whether you need a resume put together or revised, a cover letter written, or your LinkedIn profile overhauled. 

Improve Your Resume or CV