You’ve just walked off the stage with your high school diploma or a college degree and you’re ready to dive into the workforce. Congratulations! So… what’s next? Some of your peers may have jobs waiting for them (due to family connections, unique opportunities or pure luck), but you’re not in that group. You’ll need to rely on your own wits and face the wild, unstructured world for a while before you land your first post-graduate job.
Here are a few tips that can help you bridge the gap from here to there.
Create your resume quickly.
Your resume is important, for sure, and it should be perfectly perfect in every way before employers review it. But here’s a fact: it won’t be. A resume is a living, ongoing document that is NEVER perfect. Even when it’s finally concise, comprehensive, and absolutely typo-free, it will need to be updated, since you’ll probably have held one or two more jobs or volunteer gigs during the time it took to polish your draft to perfection. Don’t wait until you can hang your resume in the Smithsonian before sending it out. Create, edit, send out, keep editing, send again, and again, edit more, keep sending and applying, etc, etc. Perfectionism will never be your friend as you move through your career—not today and not ever.
Rejection is a fact of life and a badge of valuable experience. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more rejections you accumulate, the farther you’ve progressed on your career journey. Every single rejection represents an opportunity identified and seized, and every single one makes you stronger, thickens your skin, broadens your perspective and helps you grow. Each one is a new plate in your suit of armor. Those who stay hidden away and afraid to pursue any job that’s less than a perfect match are not going anywhere. That’s not you. Get out there and get shut down! Face the storms of life, don’t hide and wait.
Look everywhere…literally everywhere.
Where can you find great jobs and open positions? Every single place you can imagine. Scour the internet, review job boards, contact companies individually by using the information on their websites, reach out to your contacts by email and phone, ask your friends, mentors, and former professors for
help, use Linkedin, use Facebook, use everything. Keep an eye out for scams (the greater the urgency you feel, the more scammers and con artists can sense that urgency and exploit it), but with that caveat, go forth into every corner of the world—online and off—and just see what you can find there.
Be willing to change course.
You studied accounting because you wanted to be an accountant. That’s great! But don’t let your open door—your degree—become a prison. If you meet someone who inspires you (a teacher, a salesperson, a forklift operator, a dentist, anyone), or a new opportunity opens up that you’d like to pursue, don’t cling to the path you’ve chosen. Let go. Change direction. There will never be an easier point in your career in which to do this.
Keep your bridges intact
A hard fact to accept: Others don’t care about your career as much as you do. If you reach out to someone and they don’t respond, or if you arrange a meeting that falls through, or if you ask someone to help you and they don’t, move on with grace. This is not rudeness or betrayal, it’s just life. Someday you may find yourself on the other end of a similar interaction and you’ll understand that goodwill preserves relationships so you can rely on them later—bad will sours and frays them very quickly. Stay friendly and self-reliant. For more on how to get your foot in the door of a long and rewarding career, contact the experts at PSU.