How to Get Your First Job, Right Out of College => It’s a typical story among the recently graduated people. You finished your studies, and you face the struggle of finding your first job. Some companies are requiring the experience that you don’t have. Others have so many applicants that you’ll be just another fish in the ocean. You begin to question yourself: “How am I supposed to get experience if no one allows me to prove myself?”
Let’s deep dive a little bit.
How to Get Your First Job, Right Out of College
Why Should a Company Give You a Job?
Maybe this is what you should start questioning. Why should they do it? What do you have that would justify paying a salary? A company exists to make money. They won’t spend it unless they see a return in this investment.
When asking yourself why a given company didn’t answer to your CV, you usually come out with one of two answers: either you really don’t have the right skills for the jobs that you’re applying for, or you are not showing your value correctly. Thankfully, most of the time, you’ll get the second answer.
Using the Right Strategy
If you are searching for a job for the first time, you are probably in the hardest point of your career: you have a degree but no experience, no accomplishments to show, and no history of companies that may recommend you. You have a mostly blank CV with only your degree on it.
If all you have is a blank CV, why would you choose the strategy of spamming it to every HR people you can find? Think about it. Would you hire yourself if you were in the position of selecting people to fill a given position? What can you do to change that?
Know the Needs of the Company You’re Applying for
No company posts a job opportunity for the sake of philanthropy. They do it to fulfill some need they have. Usually, job posts tend to have a very generic requirement list: The degree you must have, how many years of experience, and not much else. You need to do your research about them. Find out what challenges they’ve been through. Understand the real need. Finally, match their needs with your skills. You should pitch to them with a clear idea of how you would be the best person for them to hire.
Don’t ask what the company can do for you. Tell what you can do for them!
Have Something to Show
You can say everything you want. You can say that you are a proactive, responsible, and eager to learn person. But it only matters when you can prove it. Actions matter 100 times more than words.
If you want to prove that you are proactive, show them the side projects that you’ve built, what you learned with them, and why you did them. If you want to show that you are a person that loves learning new things, point out the online courses and conferences you attended. Talk about how awesome they were and how you learned so much. Show passion. You are interacting with people, and being passionate about what you do is one of the best things you can show.
You also need to prove that you are competent enough for the job. You can achieve this by having a portfolio that highlights your technical skills. Maintain and grow it.
Build your speech in a way that when you are pitching, no one doubts that you are who you claim to be.
Invest in Your Soft Skills. Strongly
Your soft skills are what defines who you are. You can always learn a new technology stack, a new language, or a new video editing program. There are numerous courses for one to learn specific hard skills.
But how do you learn soft skills?
By living. By going through different experiences and learning with your failures and successes. By doing things that teach you something different. By solving problems. The harder, the better. These skills are the hardest to learn because no one can teach them. You get them by living, learning, and developing yourself into a better person than yesterday.
Investing in your soft skills is investing in yourself to become a better person and, consequently, a better professional
Forbes also mentions that soft skills are the most important skills for you to succeed at work.
Have a Homepage
You need someplace to be the homepage of your career. Where people can access and know what you’ve been up to. Somewhere you can share your education, side projects, and companies where you’ve worked. A place where you can share your skills, accomplishments, and recommendations.
Some people create their own websites. Creatives often use Behance. Programmers use GitHub. What is important is for you to have a place where one can easily find who you are. In my opinion, LinkedIn is the best tool to achieve this.
LinkedIn is a professional social network that allows you to do everything I mentioned above and even more. Recruiters often contact me via chat for possible job opportunities. It’s also possible for you to search the open positions in the companies that have LinkedIn pages.
Even if you choose to have your portfolio in another place, I recommend that you have a LinkedIn profile as well.
Research Your Market Beforehand
Let’s say that you are almost/recently graduated. If you don’t have the following points, you are already a bit late:
- A list of the leading companies where you would like to work
- Knowledge about what someone with your education does on the day-to-day job
- List of people you’ve met that you can use in your job search. You can gather these contacts in conferences or job fairs
You will need these three things if you want to get a job right after finishing college. That way, you already know what companies to apply, how, and what you will be doing there.
If you are finishing college and still don’t have these, you are already starting to run late. You should have done that while you were doing your degree. Not after, when you should already be working and earning money. Even so, better late than never.
If you want to get a job, especially right after college, you need to do your homework. You need to focus on how you can help the company you’re applying to. Learn how you can show your value. It is indefinitely more important than just saying that you are this and that.
Match your skills with the company’s needs.
Don’t stop improving yourself, at least until you can say: “I would hire myself!”