Knowing where to start the search for your first job after college and how to refine the numerous options available is half of the battle. Intelligently planning out your approach can save you precious time and energy. Here are a few pieces of advice to get you started on your search.
The first task you should tackle is getting familiar with yourself. Knowing your desires, strengths, and weaknesses will enable you to narrow your search process from the get-go. If you’re an exceptionally strong writer and outgoing, social individual, you might make a great marketer. Analytical thinker and problem solver who loves to tackle problems on your own? You might make a great data analyst or engineer. Not sure about your strengths or what type of position you’re looking for? No worries, you can easily start by looking at all of the positions available in a particular location.
Knowing Where to Look
The internet is full of resources to help you find jobs. There are hundreds and hundreds of search engines for jobs. How do you choose the right one?
The good news is that there are two primary strategies for job searches on the internet. Searching on Google will often lead you to the largest job search engines and often some search engines that specialize in what you’re looking for (like WayUp). These larger search engines will often have many positions from the largest companies and most prolific brands in the world. Searching on the specialty job boards is the other primary strategy. If you know exactly what you’re interested in doing, job boards with a narrower focus often have high quality postings from very desirable small companies.
You can also start looking locally by getting in contact with your career center (even if you’re a recent grad). Local employers often post jobs with the local universities knowing that students will come to the career center for help finding employment. If you’d like to remain near your university, the career center can be a fantastic resource.
Searching for Entry-Level Positions by Keyword
If you opt to search for jobs on a larger search engine, you will likely lose the ability to easily search for entry-level positions only. In that case, here is a list of job title keywords that can help you narrow the results down to entry-level positions:
is a very common entry-level term for technical jobs or design related jobs.
is another commonplace title for recent graduates. Many marketing and business roles have the associate title.
is a term primarily used by the job seeker. It’s not common for employers to post positions with this term in the title. However, a few will, so you might get lucky and find a position if you search by this term.
is a term you won’t find in many job titles, but it’s often in job descriptions for entry-level positions.
is a much broader search term, but one that will also often be prevalent in the descriptions of entry-level positions.
Look Outside of Your Major
It’s becoming more and more common for recent grads to land their first job in a position completely unrelated to their major. Just because you chose to major in psychology or english doesn’t mean you have to only look for jobs in psychology or english. There are plenty of junior or associate-level jobs that aren’t directly associated with a common college major. Keep your eyes open for things like coordinator or volunteer management roles at non-profits, account management positions, and operations roles.
This isn’t just the case for non-technical majors either. If you majored in Computer Science or Mechanical Engineering, you don’t have to go straight into an engineering role. You might make a wonderful Product Manager or Data Scientist.
Interested in stepping outside of your major? Here are 5 tips to help you get a job that is unrelated to your major.
Be Aware of Scams and Advantageous Employers
It’s incredibly sad, but recent graduates are often taken advantage of in their first job. Many positions that sound incredibly appealing and promising are actually terrible jobs or scams. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Jobs That Seem Too Good to be True
Pro tip: they probably are too good to be true. If someone is offering you a large signing bonus or an unbelievably high salary for an easy position, it’s best to steer clear. Scammers often masquerade as employers hiring recent graduates for positions like Office Manager, Customer Support, Front Desk, Assistant, etc.
Ambassador or Campus Rep positions
These positions are common part-time roles for current students but aren’t the best options for recent graduates. They often pay a meager commission for each student you get to sign up for their service. When you’re in school and can easily network with your classmates, these positions can help pay the bills bit-by-bit. However, once you graduate, it’s extremely difficult to make enough money to live off of.
Be Diligent, Daily
Employers post new entry-level roles constantly. It’s important to diligently stay on top of your job search. Here are a few tips for doing that:
- Sign up to receive job alerts by email from any of the entry-level specific job boards (i.e. WayUp).
- Search for positions on your phone while you’re commuting (please don’t do this if you commute by car). Use Google to find entry-level jobs near you.
- Create a daily calendar reminder to check the major job boards for any recent positions that might be of interest to you.
Finding the right entry-level jobs to apply to is not an easy task. However, taking your time to do some introspection and plan out your search process will make your process far less painful.