So you don’t have a job lined up after college. And you’re stressing about that. However, the outlook isn’t as dismal as you fear.
If you believe everything you see on social media, then you might assume that most of your peers will strut into their first day of work in their respective fields right after crossing the stage to accept their bachelor’s degrees. But you’d be wrong to think this.
Ironically, the data mirrors fiction: the classic 90s sitcom Friends, to be exact. Despite what Instagram tells you, just one-third of college graduates will begin their careers immediately after completing college (like Chandler and Ross did). Similarly to Friends, the remaining two-thirds will either begin their career halfway through their twenties or fail to launch it as a twenty-something.
While it’s crucial to take your future career seriously and work towards obtaining your goals, you must understand that graduating job-less doesn’t make you a failure. In some ways, you may have a slight advantage: you have more time to get your ducks in a row. And, like your grandparents always told you, moving through this transitional period of time will help you build character.
Check out our tips below for guidance on what to do if you graduate from college without a job offer.
- Assess your financial situation
When it comes to budgeting, it’s smart to follow the 50/30/20 budget. Spend 50 percent of your income (after taxes) on the essentials, which includes rent and food. Next, spend 30 percent on wants (you know—dinners out, concerts, movies, etc.), and 20 percent on savings and/or paying off debts.
Can you find a way to stick to that budget plan? For starters, get a job if you don’t have one already. It doesn’t matter if you’re overqualified for the role. You just need to pay the bills. If you have a part-time job, then ask for more hours. Consider obtaining another position in the gig economy sphere to make ends meet.
If you can’t stick to a budget plan, then consider moving in with your folks until you get on your feet with your full-time career. According to a 2017 report by the United States Census Bureau, a third of American adults ages 18 to 34 lived with their parents in 2015.
Ask your family for help with setting boundaries to prevent you from getting too cozy. (Trust us, once you’re back home and in the groove with home-cooked meals and free laundry, it’s hard to leave.) Consider setting goals around two things: your move-out date, and the number of jobs that you apply to each week that are tied to your career goal.
- Get your full-time job plan in order
If you’re not applying for jobs in your field, well, it’s time to start! Don’t get discouraged if you find positions that you don’t meet the mark on 100 percent. You need to keep this in mind: you don’t need to have 100 percent of the qualifications called for in a job ad to apply for the job; if you can fulfill about 75 percent of the employer’s needs, go ahead and apply.
But what if you are applying to the right positions frequently, but you aren’t getting interviews? In that case, your resume and cover letter need some work. Think of these crucial documents as marketing materials designed to promote you as a candidate.
List your skills, both soft and technical, in a robust skills section. Begin every line of your work history section with a strong action verb. Whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments. Emphasize your education section (since you don’t have a lot of work experience yet). Learning how to write a resume that gets attention isn’t hard if you have the right tools. Consider using a resume builder or cover letter builder if you need extra help.
If you get interviews and no offers, then that could mean one of two things: you’re on the right track but you haven’t found the right role yet, or you need to improve your interview skills. Next time you don’t get the job, ask for interview feedback. Practice interviewing with a friend who has a lot of interview experience. Brush up on interview etiquette.
- Network and make connections
You need to network on LinkedIn, and any other professional platforms you have accounts set up on. On LinkedIn, request to be connected to people who work in fields that interest you. Follow companies that you’d love to work for, as well as their CEOs. Make it a daily habit to read blogs or news sites that are tied to the industry you want to work in.
When you apply for a job, check LinkedIn to see if anyone from your university works for the company. If you locate alumni that do, message them and ask for any inside info they can provide on both the role and the company. Learn how to make the most of LinkedIn!
Don’t forget to network IRL as well! Seek out networking events and attend them. At these events, aim to make one or two meaningful connection/s. Follow up via LinkedIn to stay connected.
Want to know a secret? There’s more to networking than finding a job. A big part of networking is listening to advice about overcoming challenges that you’re enduring. Keep that in mind as you networking via LinkedIn and at events.
- Consider an extraordinary experience
If you have the money to travel, take the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and experience the world, or consider joining programs such as WOOF or Americorps to develop new strengths and gain valuable experiences.
When you return, feeling refreshed, take inventory of the ways that you grew as a person, and consider finding a way to incorporate your experiences/growth into your resume and cover letter. This shows employers that you’re adventurous and willing to take chances—two things that are likely to appeal to employers of all stripes.
In conclusion, if you haven’t found a job, don’t panic. Remember that it’s common to not have a job after graduating. That being stated, it’s important to start working towards your career goals, even if you’re only taking baby steps.