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How to Navigate the Job Market as a College Student

How to Navigate the Job Market as a College Student

So you’ve got your degree in hand; now all you need is to land the perfect job, which should be easy, right?

For many, college studies are what seem like the hard part, and landing a good job is the reward for all that hard work. But navigating the job market can be just as daunting as end-of-year exams.

Just as preparing for a big exam takes effort, so too does preparing for job hunting and interviews. You can’t expect that simply obtaining a degree will automatically get you in the door.

Today, most people who are entering the professional job force have some sort of formal education, so you’ve got to have more than just your degree to stand out, and ensure your application reaches the top of the pile.

Landing a good job, however, is not impossible. You can successfully achieve the job of your dreams if you put in the time and effort to adequately prepare for your post-grad life.

What the Current Job Market Looks Like For Recent Grads

The good news for recent graduates is that the job market is looking up. This is not your millennial’s job market.

Instead, today’s job market is very strong for recent grads. In fact, reports show that this year’s college graduates (2022) will enter one of the strongest job markets in recent history.

Despite the mass layoffs and hiring freezes that occurred in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, companies have fully recovered and are on the lookout for fresh new graduates.

According to a recent job outlook survey, 56% of companies say they plan on increasing new graduate hires. Furthermore, there are 65% more job openings now than there were before the pandemic.

With the labor shortage from the pandemic, new graduates will also have more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating better wages and benefits. Numerous employers are already enticing new graduates with generous offers, including:

  • 401(k) matching
  • Employee discount programs
  • Full medical, dental, and life insurance benefits
  • Family planning benefits
  • Mental health and wellness benefits
  • Employee stock purchase programs
  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Flexible time off
  • Signing bonuses

Tips to Help You Navigate the Job Market

Despite a good job market, it’s still important to put time and effort into your job hunt process. The harder you work, the more companies will recognize that hard work and be willing to give you a shot.

Here are seven tips to help you navigate the current job market as a recent graduate:

1. Make Connections Prior to Graduating

Even before you graduate, it’s important to start thinking ahead. Having connections and job experience prior to graduating can significantly boost your chances of landing the job you want once you do graduate. So if you haven’t received your degree yet, consider finding a job while you’re still a student to improve your chances.

2. Boost Your Resume

Make sure you include ALL of your work history and experience on your resume. Many graduates are ashamed to have things like babysitting or restaurant work on their resumes as they think it’s irrelevant or might make them seem juvenile.

But babysitting shows that you are trustworthy and capable of managing others and working in a restaurant shows that you can likely handle fast-paced and even chaotic situations. So don’t count something out just because it seems irrelevant to the job you are trying to land.

3. Know What You Want

Be confident and know what you want. You’ll never land your ideal job if you are afraid to speak up for yourself and your wants and needs.

If mental health is a concern for you, for example, don’t be afraid to inquire about mental health accommodations or ask for them when you are interviewing. You want to impress potential future employers, yes, but they should also be able to impress you and give you what you need.

4. Focus on Networking

Job hunting is not just about sitting behind a computer applying for jobs. It’s also about putting yourself out there and networking.

You never know when a connection might lead to a job opportunity. So don’t be afraid to carry your resume or a business card with you wherever you go.

Talk to friends, family, neighbors, and former professors. You can even strike up conversations with people you don’t know while you are out and about in your daily life. Seeking out career events is also a great way to make new professional connections and network.

5. Build Your Leadership Skills

Pursuing self-improvement is also important when navigating the job market. Don’t just rely on the specific job-related skills listed on your resume. There are many other skills and qualities that can help you stand out and land a job, such as leadership skills.

Leadership skills are essential when looking for a job because companies specifically look for new graduates that have leadership potential. They want people that will help move them forward as a business and lead them into the future. So improving your leadership qualities can significantly improve your job prospects.

6. Be Proactive

One of the biggest mistakes college graduates make when navigating the job market is sitting around waiting after applying for jobs. You must be proactive, which means you can’t just send in an application and never check back in.

Do not expect the company you are applying for to do all the work for you. Go above and beyond with your application to show that you did your research and know about the company. Tell them what makes you stand out and what you have to offer them.

And then, even after you’ve applied, make sure you check back in and follow up to let them know that you are hungry to do the work and are still interested.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Decline an Offer

Many college graduates will be so thrilled about getting a response that they will jump on an initial job offer. But it’s important to make sure that the job and what they are offering is the right fit for you before you agree.

If you do happen to accept an offer and something better comes along, don’t automatically assume you can’t decline the initial offer — even if you already signed a contract.

It is possible to decline a job after you’ve already accepted and signed a contract. You just need to be smart about it. Thoroughly read your contract, be honest and tactical about why you’re declining, and express your gratitude for the opportunity.

Wrapping Up

If you are a recent grad, count yourself lucky to be entering one of the best job markets in recent history — but don’t let that fool you. Landing a good job still takes work. With the right mindset and effort, however, you can smoothly navigate the market and land your ideal job.

SEE ALSO: Best Paid Online Jobs for College Students

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