College Graduates: Take Control of Your Career from Day One!

Graduating from college, building a resume, going through the job search process, and landing that all-important first position can be a daunting process. Once you’ve started in your new job, it’s tempting to settle into the job and just coast for awhile.

But landing your first job doesn’t guarantee a smooth and easy path towards success. If you don’t keep working at your career, you may find yourself stuck in the same position 3, 5 or even 10 years down the road. The steps you take in your job from Day One are what can make you stand out from the competition and keep moving forward. Here are three steps you can take to ensure your career doesn’t get stuck in neutral.

Tips for Recent College Graduates: Taking Control of Your Career

Document Success

This is a career step many of us (myself included) neglect to take care of until we’re actively looking for a job (and it’s almost too late). Not keeping on top of your career successes means you’re going to be frantically digging through old spreadsheets, programs and files, trying to find exactly how much you helped increase revenue or what kind of costs savings your new accounting process merited. It’s time consuming and if you’ve already left a position and don’t have access to records anymore, almost impossible.

So from day one at your first job out of college, make it a point to document your success. Set a baseline for where your company stood when you started your position and over time, document improvements and changes you contributed to. They key here is measurability—show how you saved time or money, increased profits, or reduced spending in dollar amounts or percentages.  Spending 5-10 minutes on this documentation each week can save you a lot of time and headaches when you need those numbers to guarantee a raise, a promotion, or to help you apply for your next job.

Speak Up

In an ideal world, dedication and hard work is enough to get a promotion or a raise. But the truth is, if you have your eye on a particular position or department within your company, you have to be vocal about it. After all, no one can read your mind and now that you feel ready to take on a new challenge: it’s up to you to communicate your career goals to others and get the ball rolling.

Once you feel comfortable in your job and you have a good rapport with your boss or manager, vocalize your career goals and aspirations. Find out what it would take to move yourself up to the next level, whether that means additional responsibilities or additional training. Being proactive and putting a bug in someone’s ear may mean your name comes up next time a new position or promotion is on the table.

Always Be Looking

Sadly, the days of recruiters seeking out candidates with the perfect job are becoming few and far between. If you want to keep your career momentum going, you need to constantly be keeping your eyes open for the next great position – even if you have a job you’re content in. This means also having your resume updated at all times, so that if an opportunity presents itself, you can take advantage of it right away. Don’t wait for the perfect new job to present itself to you; if you do, you could find that you’re waiting for a very long time.

One of the great things about being a recent college graduate is that, as a student, you had to be pretty proactive in earning your college degree. After all, no one was holding your hand in college, making sure that you studied or went to class. Take the student self-starter mindset, apply it to your career, and you should have no problem achieving all of your goals in the future!

What other career tips would you give to recent college graduates? Let us know in the comments below!


About the Author: Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Noël writes and edits the career and education blog, myPathfinder, and is passionate about using these technologies to help students and job seekers alike find the degree program or career that is right for them. Visit to find the bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD program that’s right for you. Connect with Noel on Twitter!



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