What to Do if You Can’t Find a Full-Time Job After College

What to Do if You Can’t Find a Full-Time Job After College

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So, you’ve just graduated college and are looking for a job within your field of study. However, you are struggling to get a job. What should you do if you can’t find a full-time job after graduating college?

Graduates can work part-time, complete an internship, network, continue schooling, and earn certificates if they can’t find a full-time job after they complete college. Former college students need to be open to new opportunities and may work in a field that is outside of their field of study.

Keep reading if you want to know why college students struggle to find a job after graduation and how to increase your chances of getting hired.

Why College Students Struggle to Find Their First Job

Many people just expect that after they have their degree in hand, everything will fall into place. They’ll find a job easily because that degree is the only thing employers care about, right?

In reality, it takes a lot of time and energy to find a job after graduation. On average, Fresh graduates take 7 months to find their first full-time job related to their field of study. The problem is that it is a risky gamble for employers to hire candidates with no professional experience.

If you are applying for high-level corporate jobs and your only experience has been mowing lawns during the summer, HR won’t know how you will adapt to an office environment. This is why it is recommended that unemployed graduates lower their standards and apply for internships or entry-level positions.

In addition, fresh graduates struggle to find their first job because they suck at job seeking. They don’t know how to build an attractive resume, how to seduce recruiters during a job interview, and how to earn the trust of HR departments.

For example, if you are applying for an engineering internship at a tech startup and the interviewer asks you why you will be a good fit for the company, the rookie mistake that new job seekers make is to give a generic answer like “I am excited to work in the software industry.”

The trick is to research the company beforehand to give an answer tailored to the company’s needs. You might say something like: “I know that your company is working on X. Based on Y experience from a semester project, I will be able to provide Z value for your company.”

A Saturated Market: a Graduate’s Worst Nightmare

Lately, it seems like everyone has at least an undergraduate college degree. This can be especially intimidating for new college graduates that are trying to differentiate themselves.

In the job market, there are too many graduates competing for the same jobs. The cruel thing is that there is little difference between two graduates from the same university. Even worse: How are fresh graduates supposed to compete with people who have been in the industry for years?

In reality, employers are always looking for new faces and fresh ideas, and not just because they can pay you less. Keep reading to find out more about how you can stand out against other working professionals.

Internships: The Best Way to Earn Your First Experience 

It seems like employers expect at least two years of experience for a starting-level position. How is that possible? You’ve just graduated college; how can you be expected to have any real experience in the field?

The answer is simple: internships.

Internships provide an opportunity to work in a specific field part-time. They can be paid or unpaid, but internships allow you to gain experience and break into a field of work. They can also be great talking points during job interviews.

However, not all internships are created equal, and you shouldn’t necessarily take every internship that is offered to you. While some internships provide a valuable way to gain experience, others are just a way for businesses to take advantage of this avenue of unpaid labor. Before accepting an internship, read online reviews posted by previous interns and check if the job description mentions the experience that you will gain.

All in all, internships are one of the best ways to prove to your future employer that you are up to the task of professional work. Internships provide the experience of working in a professional environment alongside full-time employees. They can also help you decide if your chosen field is really what you want to do.

Tips For What to Do When You Can’t Find a Job

So, we’ve talked about why people struggle to find a job after college, we’ve talked about the state of the market, and now you know all about internships. Now let’s dive into the real stuff! Our best tips and tricks for finding a full-time job after you graduate:

  1. Networking: We put this first because, a lot of the time, it’s more about who you know than what you know. Networking is basically making friends with the right people. It is forging connections with people in your industry who can help connect you to jobs in the future. Talk to people in your field of work, even before you start working in it, and go to field events.
  2. Obtain good references: These should be people who can speak to your skills as an intern, student, or employee. You can tailor these to the job you’re applying for as well. If you are applying to be an editorial assistant, who can best speak to your editing skills? Your literature professor or the team lead of your internship at a publishing house? Only you can know. If you feel that you don’t have strong references, that may be because you lack experience.
  3. Pursue opportunities: Seek opportunities that will help you hone and refine your skills as a professional. It may be painful to bite the bullet and accept that unpaid internship, but if that’s what you need to do to work on your leadership, writing, or research skills, then it’s probably worth it. Use your university’s resources to help you find internships and other opportunities that will make you a competitive candidate.
  4. Adjust your expectations: Maybe you really want to get a full-time position at a large firm in your hometown. However, that may not be possible. It is important to keep realistic expectations when searching for a job post-college. Odds are, you’ll be in a starting level position, which is typically lower paying than something you might apply for five or ten years out. If you are very specific about the type of job you want, you might consider relocating to a new area. Keep your eyes open and be flexible, and you will be surprised at how many opportunities there are for full-time positions.

How to Reduce Stress During Your Search

A recent survey shows that nearly 45% of 2020 college graduates are still looking for a job. It can feel pretty defeating when you’re part of that 45%. But, one of the best things you can do for yourself, aside from bolstering your resume and references, is to reduce stress while you are job searching. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Lower your current expenses: When things are tight financially, the natural stress of the job search and interview process is just exacerbated. Take a look at your budget and make sure you are living within your means.
  2. Secure a temporary job: Even a job as a cashier at Target is better than floundering until you secure a job you want to keep long-term. Working a temporary job in food service, sales, or retail is a great way to keep yourself busy and meet your expenses until you secure the full-time position that you actually want.
  3. Pursue hobbies: When you’re caught up in the job search, it’s not unusual to feel anxious and even aimless, like your identity is tied up in the job that you have. But remember, you are more than what you do for money. Pursuing hobbies you enjoy can help you not only de-stress, but they also help you remember that your worth is more than your job.
  4. Stay positive: It is important to not let yourself get discouraged, even if the job search is taking you longer than planned. If you follow the strategies presented in this article, you will find a full-job eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

Tools to Use to Help You Find a Full-time Job

LinkedIn is a wonderful and commonly-used tool that you can use to help you find a full-time job. Remember what we said about networking? Well, LinkedIn is an online tool that helps you do just that. You can also apply directly to jobs on LinkedIn and learn more if you subscribe to certain services.

Make a profile, upload your resume and experiences, and make sure you click “actively applying” as your job search status so employers know that you want to be considered. Here are some tips on how to announce your first internship on Linkedin.

Glassdoor is another website that has become popular to help people find jobs that fit their personal situations and preferences. It’s called “Glassdoor” because it lets you see the perks and drawbacks of working for a company based on the anonymous testimonials of people who currently work there and have worked there in the past. That way, you go into the interview (or your first day!) knowing what you’ve signed up for.

The Importance of Being Patient

Although it may be easy to give up after a few months of searching for a job, keep looking for as long as it takes for you to get into the field you studied, even if it isn’t exactly what you are looking for. If you are actively searching and building up your resume, you will eventually find a job. And that is the importance of being patient.

Being patient might mean biding your time working at a grocery or retail store while you search for a job in your chosen field. Or it might mean doing the grunt work in a lower-paying, assistant-level position and working your way up into a position you are happy with. Both are normal parts of the job search, so make the most of it while you’re there. Develop new skills, make connections, and be patient while you are working towards your dream career.

About The Author

Nathan Brunner
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Nathan Brunner is a labor market expert. He is a mathematician who graduated from EPFL.

He is the owner of Salarship, a job board where less-skilled candidates can find accessible employment opportunities.