Advice for Recent College Graduates Entering the Job Market

Advice for Recent College Graduates Entering the Job Market

It used to be that after studying in college, everyone knew just what part of the job market they would work in; people automatically knew where they belonged and on graduation, they would quickly find this spot, fill it to the best of their ability and begin to rise in the ranks there, more often than not there’s not a career change throughout their career journey.

However, times have changed profoundly. The people that seem to be the most affected are the recent graduates. The people in the job market have the advantage of time over recent graduates because they have been forced to adapt to survive. However, the gap between recent graduates and the job market is an ever-widening one. Think about it, the education system has not changed one bit to take into consideration the change in the labour market. Virtually everything is still the same yet college graduates are expected to somehow fit in with a world that seems 10 years ahead of the knowledge and systems that they were prepared for.

This article provides a range of advice for both recent college graduates and current college students to enable them to adapt quickly and easily.

1. Be Adaptable:

This cannot be overemphasized. The world has changed rapidly over a short period and it is still changing, we all just have to adjust almost as quickly as it is changing. So, isn’t it wonderful that research has shown that adaptability is not a trait? Rather, it is a state you can develop through practice. What do you think? Isn’t it fair that no one is born adaptable; we all must have to learn to be adaptable. The more adaptable people you know now in the job market have only had enough practice so they are better at it now.

This means that if you start practising adaptability right now then you will soon become a master at it and you would be able to adapt more easily in the future. There’s no way out of this; you learn to adapt, you practise and you get better at it, and can adapt more easily in the future.

Why do I need to adapt? You may ask. You need to adapt because there are new ways of working currently. Technology has changed the way we learn, work and the way we communicate. You may end up discovering that what you have spent the last 4 years studying is what someone who has never been in college before can do easily with some software in an even shorter time than you. You may not end up thriving in the field in which you spent some years in college, you may change careers and industries. So what do you do? You adapt! After all, Confucius says “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” and “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom”

2. Social Media:

A few years ago, social media used to be solely for fun. We used to go there just to have fun and meet people, not for our jobs or careers. However, today the story has changed. Social media has somehow become your advertiser. It used to be that only companies and businesses were required to have a brand, but today, a college graduate is required to be a brand.

You see, let’s imagine that you are pitching for a new job in today’s job market, what do you think is the first thing your employer would do after the first contact with you? They will go and look you up on LinkedIn. The question now is “Are you linked in?”

What do you think they are looking to find on your LinkedIn page? They want to see what you have been learning, they want to see what you have been doing, and they want to see how much value you can bring to the table. By what you know and what you have done, they can propose what you can do.

The only problem however, is that most students while in college are as active as they can be on all social media handles but LinkedIn, that’s a serious mistake, comparable to career suicide.

3. Active Learning:

Gone are the days when you rejoice about your graduation from college because now, you will not study anymore, now no more books and research for you. Well, gone are those days, and from my own experience, I do not think that those days are coming back, ever.

Instead, now is the time to become a real learner, a lifelong learner. We have earlier mentioned that the world and the ways that we work are changing at an alarming speed, how do we mitigate this and be ready at all times. How do we have everything or at least the basic things that the job market requires from us (by now you know that your college degree certificate is about the last thing they think about), it is by continuously learning.

There is so much to learn about technology, there is so much to learn about customers, we are no longer in the days where the customer had no choice but to take whatever is foisted upon them by the manufacturers, instead, today the customers call the shots. You have to study your customers today and know them, in some cases better than they know themselves.

New ways of working like Agile require that you have a mixture of skills, some that have absolutely nothing to do with whatever you studied for your degree. Today a graduate of computer engineering could be asked to conduct market research. While this may not be directly related to what he studied in college, it is directly related to his job.

So have an open mind, be willing to learn and continue to learn. Right now, you are doing a good job, you are learning, but if you want to learn even more head over here.

4. Network Building and Community:

By now, you are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by all you are expected to know and do, just at this point that you thought you could relax a bit. Well, you can surely relax, but life and learning have not ended.

Networking according to Career Education is “the process of making connections and building relationships. These connections can provide you with advice and contacts, which can help you make informed career decisions.” It goes further to say “Networking can even help you find unadvertised jobs/internships. Networking can take place in a group or one-on-one setting”.

This is one advantage of attending college. By now you should have built a large network of people that would be of great help to you and who you can also help. Maintain the relationships and networks that you have built while in college, don’t discard them because you think that now, you don’t need them anymore, keep in touch and remain active but also form new networks.

You must get yourself hitched up to a community or rather communities that will encourage you to learn and to grow in your niche. This will help you stand strong all the way and not feel overwhelmed or burdened.

It used to be difficult to check the validity of a referral before but it is not so anymore. This is because, if I refer you to a possible employer, the employer just searches your name on LinkedIn, to know if you are a possible lead or not. Do you now see how all of these are interrelated? We have a more comprehensive article on networking and belonging to a community, check it out here.

5. Your Resume

Even I could not believe it when I discovered that resumes are not treated the same way they used to be treated traditionally. It used to be that we created our resume for the eyes of the employer to discern what is best for them and what is not. However, have you heard of ATS recently? Applicant Tracking System is a software for recruiters and employers to track candidates throughout the recruiting and hiring process. Do you understand what this means? It means that from the first to the last point of the recruitment process, the only time that your resume may have a human contact may be at the point where you are hired. If you end up not being hired, probably no human handled your resume at all. Now who are you optimizing your resume for? You probably learnt in GS 101 about writing a resume, however, what you learnt will be of minimal help here, you have to actively learn now how to optimize your resume for ATS.

Know that your resume is not always the same. When you are applying for certain job roles, some things should be emphasized more than others. To learn to optimize your resume for ATS read our article here

6. Be Self-Confident:

This is not regular advice for recent college graduates scouting the job market but it is the foundation on which every other thing in this article either stands strong or collapses. Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something and it is a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment. It is ultimately a feeling that you can rely on your abilities, innate qualities and judgment to thrive in the job market of today.

Most of the things you will have to do are new to you, thus it is very easy to begin to feel overwhelmed and incompetent with the whole job search effort. Even more frustrating and painful is the reality that you have tried over and over again with no reasonable success. But you have to try again and again.

Know this, you are not on the planet to do anything else but your best. You are here to try again and again until you succeed, if not why else are you here?

The job market has a place for you, all you need is the willingness to learn; be humble, be teachable, be proactive, and remember the words of Confucius “What the superior man seeks is in himself, what the small man seeks is in others”, I believe you are a superior man or woman!

Since it has been established that you would have to learn a lot, we have so many resources to help you get started check out our blog.

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