,   |  May 26, 2015

Graduated without a job? 3 things you should do today

There are a few industries that recruit very far in advance which means some college seniors have their jobs lined up months before graduation. For most of us, that is NOT the case.

If you’re one of the many people who recently graduated without a job in hand, don’t panic. If you put in the work, apply to the right jobs, and hustle hard you will make a ton of progress.

Today I wanted to share 3 easy tips you can implement right away that will help you land your first job. Of course you can’t just do the below… you also need to be going through the process of applying to jobs, networking to follow up, and all of the standard stuff… but these 3 things will help enormously.

graduated without job

1. Solidify your elevator pitch, and get comfortable with it:

The most popular question you’re going to get asked in the coming weeks is, “do you have a job yet?” or “what are you looking to do next?”  It’s an innocent question but also can feel incredibly annoying when you’re not quite sure how to answer it.

Instead of feeling annoyed, realize that every single person asking you this question is someone who can potentially help you.

You never know who people know! So instead of saying “I’m not sure yet” and changing the topic, get ready to pitch.

Here is a full post on crafting your elevator pitch if you’re interested. In short, the key elements to cover are:

  • What you’ve done so far – As a recent grad this is likely what you studied, what internships you held, plus any relevant campus activities you were involved in.
  • What you’d like the future to hold – Though you may not be 100% sure what you want to do next, you need to have a perspective. There is no problem saying something more general like “a job that allows me to work with people” or “a job in either marketing or PR.”  I do see a problem with saying “I have no clue what I want to do but I’ll take any job.”  It just doesn’t make you seem impressive or focused.
  • Why you are focusing in that area(s) – Think about the reason why you want to work in the areas you’ve chosen and be able to articulate that. Is it because of your skills? Is it because you’re passionate about the industry?

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

At the end of your elevator pitch, you need to say one critical thing to the person who asked you the question:

“Do you know anyone who might be able to help me break into this industry/type of job?”

This allows you to immediately give the person the opportunity to help you out. Even though they might not be in the position to do anything directly they might know someone who can. See what you did? You just turned an annoying conversation to an incredibly productive one.

On this same note, you don’t need to wait for someone to ask you what you’re up to in order to ask for help. You can put your elevator pitch right into an email and send to those you’re close with.

Check out point #2 in this super helpful The Muse post for a template to use. I suggest using individual emails versus the mass approach, but both can work well.

3. Set up some informationals

Do you know someone who is doing a really cool job at a really great company? Are you interested in learning more about their role and how they got their first job? Reach out to them and schedule an informational interview.

Here’s a template you can use:

Hi [contact],

[start email by catching up – you may add more personal details depending on your relationship]

As you may know, I recently graduated from [university] and I’m looking for a role in [describe the type of role you’re looking for].

I know you’ve been [doing a certain type of role or working at a certain company] and I was wondering if you’d be open to [having a 15 minute phone call/grabbing coffee/etc] so I can learn more about what you do, what it’s like to work at [company], and any advice you have for me in landing my first job.

Thank you so much! [you]

This approach works best for people you know directly who have some reason to want to help you out. I find that most people aren’t too excited to book informational interviews with total strangers — use this approach for them instead.

Are you a recent grad? What have you been doing to make progress on your job search so far? Would love to hear any ideas and advice in the comments.

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