Due to the lasting effects of the 2008 economic recession, getting your ideal job after college is not a sure bet. While technology has made applying to jobs easier than ever, it is actually more difficult to connect with potential employers online due to the extremely high number of applications that are being sent every day. The good thing is, there is hope — you just need to think about applying for jobs after college differently than other generations did. With that in mind, here are four tips you can use to proactively aid your job search after college.
1. Package your experience in a creative way
When looking over entry-level positions, you might find that posted jobs require more than a year or two of experience for candidates even to be considered. This is because there is a glut of slightly older twenty-something graduates who are also looking for work, and companies know they can snag these not-so-recent graduates for a premium price.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. Instead, you should create a resume not just based on your collegiate experience, but also internships, community involvement, classroom leadership and part-time work. This, of course, depends on what industry you are trying to break into, but playing up your expertise is always a good way to get your foot in the door.
2. Join an industry-specific group
If you’ve been looking for a job after college for more than a few months, many experts recommend you “network.” This is generally ill-defined, as this can mean a number of things, and not all recent graduates are in a position to have existing contacts within their chosen field. It is also difficult, if not impossible, to ask a professional favor from someone you have no prior connection with, especially if you don’t feel like you have anything to offer in return.
However, many industries have professional networks that you can join to bolster your credentials and make connections. For example, if you are interested in information technology, you should consider joining CompTIA, an IT industry association.
3. Be flexible
After graduating, you may have the idea that you’re going to immediately enter the professional workforce and gain all the benefits that are associated with it. However, an uneven economic recovery means that the light at the end of the college-graduation tunnel may not actually be a job offer. While many STEM graduates tend to have offers waiting for them at the end of their college years, most other students do not.
Instead, you should consider jobs that you may not have looked at while being a student but that may fall within the purview of your skillset. While this may not seem ideal, the experience you build in adjacent fields that you are interested in may very well help you eventually land the position you are actually looking for.
4. Apply, apply, apply
Ultimately, you’re not going to get hired if you don’t apply for any positions. While it may feel like throwing darts against a wall while blindfolded, applying for jobs online is sometimes simply a numbers game: The more you apply for, the better your chances of landing one.
And even the jobs you don’t get are still worth shooting for. You’ll likely get called in to interview for positions you would not have even thought you were qualified for or don’t particularly want; once you are able to accumulate some confidence in interviews, you’ll be able to snag a job that will be a good stepping stone to a rewarding career in your chosen field.
Originally published on July 27, 2016.