Recent Graduates: Your Job Search Doesn’t Have to be Overwhelming

recent graduatesSo you’re almost done with university life and thinking about the job search. Or maybe you’ve already been on the hunt and your feeling like you are not making any progress. Many recent graduates may have noticed that being out of school can be challenging because it’s hard to get momentum for a job search.

It may feel a bit overwhelming.

Take a look at the ideas below and see how recent graduates, or soon to be recent grads, can sharpen their approach…

When You Don’t Have a Plan

Think of your job search as a project that must be managed. It’s up to you to design, architect, and execute that search. Kind of like the syllabus you got at the beginning of each term. So, what are the next 10 – 12 weeks going to look like for your job search?

Having a good plan will help recent graduates stay on track and see the progress they’re making on a day-to-day basis.

What you can do:

  • Create a plan for your job search that will keep you on track. Even a simple Excel spreadsheet or Word table will do.
  • Identify simple steps you can take each day. Then put them on your action list.
  • Target daily and weekly goals, check them off as you go, and make the progress to your goals visual. This will increase your sense of accomplishment.

When You Don’t Have the Right Marketing Tools

You’ve got to have the right marketing tools if you’re going to market yourself. When you do, you’ll feel good about how they represent you. This will give most recent graduates more confidence in every aspect of their search.

What you can do:

  • Get a good resume that includes a clear statement about your value proposition, your experience, and the keywords employers are looking for.
  • Coordinate your LinkedIn profile, cover letter templates, business cards, elevator speech, social media persona, and other tools (online or off-line) to have consistent messaging. Think “one voice.”
  • Bring your point of view into comments you make in online communities or at networking events and in other conversations (including interviews).

When You’re Not Organized

Everything feels harder if I’m not organized. The same may also be true for you. When you’re job searching you’ll meet a lot of people and have many conversations. You need to track applications you’ve submitted, and note networking events and important dates on your calendar. To keep all of this straight recent graduates have got to be organized.

If you don’t, you risk missing an opportunity because you forgot to follow-up or you couldn’t find that important number when you needed it.

What you can do:

  • If you do nothing else, get a notebook, and write everything down in it. Create a quick summary of every conversation, keep track of every contact, title, contact info and important date.
  • As mentioned above, even just getting all your data on an Excel spreadsheet can get you organized quickly.
  • Create a filing system, on-line or off, to keep your marketing materials, leads you are following, applications submitted, followup due dates, network contacts, and other information in a place where you can easily access it.

When You Have No Network

Even as you start your career, you probably know a lot more people than you are giving yourself credit for. Many young adults I meet underestimate the number of people with whom they are already connected! Often, recent graduates are reluctant to reach out to the ones they DO know because they don’t know how.

A recent study showed that 60% of jobs are placed through networked referrals. Building your network can help you get referred.

What you can do:

  • Get your LinkedIn profile built. Build other online profiles as well (BranchOut, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, etc…)
  • Connect with everyone you know, and then some. This is where you invite your parents, parents of your friends, people from church, university professors, neighbors, your old babysitter. Anyone. I’d be shocked if you had less than 75 people without much effort.
  • Ask people you know if there is anyone else THEY know that they would suggest you connect with. Continue expanding your network as you build momentum.

When You’re Trying to Do It Alone

Are you sitting alone day after day, working on your job search but getting distracted by all kinds of things? You set out to make five phone calls or connect with three alumni, and you end up wading through Facebook, or playing video games

Being isolated in your job search can make it difficult to get traction, and hard to stay motivated. Instead, find a tribe.

What you can do:

  • Join a job search networking group where everyone works on their plans together and meets regularly to report results. Many churches, colleges, and communities host job search groups. Young professional groups may also have them. Also check Craigslist, Meetup, LinkedIn and other sites to find groups.
  • If you can’t find a group, start one!
  • If you want professional help, you can also hire a coach or consultant to help you design and implement a plan. Consultants may also provide accountability groups with a group of clients.

Launching your career after academics is a monumental task. For most recent graduates, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Hopefully the ideas above will help you overcome the overwhelm.

Because your future starts now!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friend, Lea McLeod.




Lea McLeodAbout The Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her on Twitter and her blog:



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