How to get a job right out of college

A quick note: I wrote this article for Edu.com back in 2000. That site no longer exists, but the article does, and I updated it to keep it current.

So you’re about to graduate and you’re starting to fret because you don’t have a job lined up. If going back to live with your parents seems like a bad idea, then you’d better do your homework. “Yeah, but where do I start?” you ask. Right here and now would be alright…

Use what you already have
First, don’t dismiss the resources that your college or grad school has to offer. Any good school ought to have a Career Services office, a place that will at least help you get an entry-level job if not more. My college, Middlebury, had just such a place. Of course, I never used it because I was too cool for it. Then I paid the price in crappy jobs. That was the first lesson I learned: use every opportunity to your advantage.

Networking (no, not the computer kind)
The least I could have done with my summers was to research internship opportunities. A few months during the summer (when you have nothing better to do anyway) will pay off big later on if you do a good job. Not only do you get to network and make important contacts, these people may actually hand you a job if they like you. And the whole thing is pretty much a no-brainer. You go to work, you, do a good job, then get a real job.

I knew better than to pass up internship opportunities while I was studying for my Master’s. (Besides, they’re pretty much required.) I interned with a local health plan, and while I didn’t get a job out of it, I learned an awful lot about how to function in such an institution. I also got a consulting gig with them when my internship was over. I designed and implemented a Physician Profiling application for them. They were even willing to put up with me while I was still learning my way through programming in Access. The whole thing turned out great in the end, and it persuaded me to go into computer consulting as freelancer, which is what I’m doing now.

Get started
Second, check out the job search sites. There are so many of them these days, you’re bound to find jobs that you like. If you’re looking for entry-level jobs, here’s what you’ve got: CollegeRecruiter.com, College Grad Job Hunter, CareerGuidance, and CareerBuilder. The list probably goes on, but this should get you started in your search for that elusive “real” job that will pay your rent and food.

Note: While in 2000 some job sites used to specialize in entry-level jobs, most good job sites these days will list both entry-level and regular jobs.

Serious play
Now, if you’re like me and you didn’t let those summers go to waste but worked instead, you may be ready for some grown-up jobs. While the competition will definitely heat up, the crop of available jobs and the pay for those jobs definitely looks better. CareerBuilder is a big site with lots of jobs. Another really good site is Monster.

CareerXpress is a site that will distribute your resume to employers and headhunters for a fee. CareerJet is another site that collects job listings from multiple job sites and makes them available to you for easy searching. Do your research though. Find more sites if you’re interested in this. Make sure exactly how the service works, or you might get ripped off.

For that special-ized job?
Discover Me is an interesting service, because it claims to match your personality with that of top performers in a specific job. If you’re in healthcare and you’re despairing because there are no sites specific to your needs, here’s one: HireHealth. They’ve got jobs about everything related to healthcare.

Or perhaps you went abroad for a semester or two, and fell in love with that country. Europe has that kind of power, I know. Maybe you want to go back there and work. Hey, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. Check out these two sites and make your dreams come true: Planet Recruit and Datum Online, which list international jobs. And who says you can’t reach for the sky: 6FigureJobs is just the place to go for those of us that like to think large.

If you’re in technology, you’re in luck. Those sites really abound, and the jobs are plentiful (or were, before 2000). The good thing is that computers make the world go ’round these days, so there will always be a demand for good IT people. Here are some sites for us lucky ones: Dice, ITclassifieds, Techies, Jobs, and Positionwatch.

Try the past, you may be surprised
Have you tried newspaper classifieds? Some of you may be wondering what they are, and I’ll tell you. They’re a good way to find local jobs, so give them a shot.

Final thoughts
Network, but don’t be sleazy. Be nice to everyone you meet, you never know when they can help. And be sure to help when you can. Don’t keep count, just be helpful. At your job, be professional. Leave the playing around to the goofs who will never be promoted. Do your job and perform above expectations. Never burn any bridges if you can help it. It will come back to haunt you, believe me.


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