Let me start this off by saying congratulations! As a post grad, you’ve stayed up late to study for tests, discovered more of yourself (and how you can go approximately nine days without doing your laundry – no shame), and survived that random 8 a.m. class you enrolled in during your freshman year.
Along with being proud of the struggles and accomplishments that have helped you make it to this point, you’re now probably realizing that the only thing harder than choosing a college major is graduating and landing a job that may or may not be relevant to it. With the expectation of 3-5 years of experience to qualify for an entry level job and the pressure to land a position immediately, the reality of your job search can be difficult and the lack of responses from your submitted applications can be downright frustrating. To stop this from breaking your spirit and discouraging your efforts, here are eight things to do if you don’t have a job after graduation.
1. Widen your search
So you want to be a graphic designer for a creative company that offers free donuts on Friday mornings—and we don’t blame you. While this is literally a millennial dream come true, a reason you might be struggling in your search is because you’re focusing on your ideal job instead of searching for one that fits your scope of interest.
In the end, we’re not telling you to settle for a job you dislike but to be open to the ones that might not completely fit what you consider your dream. Sometimes the unexpected things that happens to us become turning points in our lives, and accepting a job you didn’t originally imagine could be one of yours.
2. Consider an internship
Before you roll your eyes and skip this suggestion, hear me out. Yes, you’re a college grad with drive and plans to take on the world. But you’re also a college grad who needs experience to prove that you have the qualifications to be given that chance. By applying for an internship in the field that you’re interested in, you’re gaining valuable knowledge in the career you want to have and making connections with the professionals you want to one day become.
3. Stick to a schedule
The truth is that searching for a job is a job in itself, and it’s up to you to treat it that way. Instead of applying for jobs whenever you come across them, make it a habit to set aside certain days and hours to dedicate to your job search. Through following a specific schedule, you’ll hold yourself accountable and avoid pushing applications off to another day. Although you can’t choose whether a company you applied to gets back to you, you can ensure you’re making the most of your free hours by working on job search activities to increase your chances.
4. Create a plan for your finances
If we’re being honest (which obviously we always are), money is an important consideration for any job and probably a main reason for why you’re looking so hard for one. Sure, you want a job that makes you happy, but you also need a job that will pay for your rent and your daily $5 vanilla lattes (sorry).
Although all circumstances are different, take initiative with your finances and make a budget that works for you during this time. From prioritizing your spending to adjusting your saving goals, you’ll not only feel more comfortable with your current status but also have more control over the situation.
5. Reach out to your network
We’ve all heard the saying: it’s not about what you know but who you know. Whether you believe this statement or not, the gesture of connecting with people in your related field could be exactly what you need to discover a job that fits what you’re looking for. So send an email to the professor you’re close to, contact the freelancer you admire, and set up a coffee date with a like-minded peer. Who knows – you might discover an opportunity that wasn’t listed on a job board and solidify your relationships with others along the way.
6. Build on your skills (or learn new ones)
Even though you might feel like your life is at a standstill, your ability to keep learning doesn’t have to be. While you might not have a job (yet), you can still invest in the resources that will make you competitive as a professional and well-versed as a person.
Are you interested in the wedding industry? Sign up for a calligraphy course. Do you love the idea of writing to a target audience who can relate? Launch a blog. If you’re not sure which skills to build on, you can always boost your credibility with these free online certifications. After all, the best way to stay current in the field you want to work in is to produce work and showcase skills that can support why you should be hired in the first place.
7. Update and tailor your resume
Every job description is different – and your resume should reflect these changes. Although it’s a smart idea to have a general draft of your resume, remember to put in the extra effort to tailor it to the job you’re applying for. Skim the job description for keywords, research the company to stay on-brand, and incorporate all of this in your resume when appropriate. Also, don’t forget to describe your accomplishments (instead of list them) and quantify these accomplishments when numbers are available. Spend time putting your resume together; ultimately, it’s a paper summary that determines a company’s interest in you and you deserve to make it count.
8. Stay positive
To put it simply, our current mentality always matters more than our current situation. Despite the stress of looking through job listings, fixing your resume, and making yourself vulnerable to potential rejection, you’re still here and trying. While you know that landing a job can be hard, take pride in the fact that you’re continuing to pursue the chance to become a professional. As you continue with your search, remember to believe in what you have to offer and recognize that the right company will be able to appreciate it.