Essential tips and strategies for securing a job after college

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Networking, interviewing, and landing the job

You powered through countless hours of lectures, endless nights in the library, and copious amounts of assignments to reach your goal—graduating college. Congratulations! For some of you, the next step in your journey is to pursue a graduate degree. For others, you may be heading into the workforce.

For those of you looking to put your degree to work, here are some quick tips for landing your first job out of college.

Find a mentor in your field

It’s estimated that about 85% of jobs are found by networking—and a good way to ease into networking is to find a mentor. Through industry-related groups (whether it’s on social media or in person), you can meet a range of people, some of whom are already established in the field you’re interested in. If you come across someone you think could offer sound advice, contact them and request to set up a brief conversation.

You can ask them for advice on:

  • How to get started in the industry
  • Tips for gaining work experience
  • Help in reviewing your resume and offering feedback

Even though you’re not asking for a job, the indirect approach to networking can open up a wealth of knowledge and advice to help you find a job after college.

Build your brand online

Your social media presence can work for—or against—you. Take some time to make sure your online brand is positioned to help you show yourself in the best light.

First, start with your LinkedIn account. Even without any professional work experience, you can still showcase your education and certifications, extracurricular activities, skills and interests, and volunteer experiences. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is public and includes key search terms. When hiring managers and recruiters are searching for candidates with specific skills you want to make sure their search queries find your profile!

Next, check your other social media accounts. According to a recent survey, 84% of organizations recruit through social media (and more plan to start), and 56% of recruiters say they find the best candidates through social media.footnote 1 Additionally, of those employers that do social research, 54% have found content that caused them not to hire candidates. You want to make sure your social media accounts are portraying the same person you are describing on your job application. Even after you land your first job, it’s still crucial to monitor yourself on social media. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste and lose a job because of something you posted online or were tagged in.

Find an internship

Internships aren’t just for students; they can be a great way to get your foot in the door of an organization. Research shows that internships lead to job offers for 70% of college graduates who have them.footnote 2

Since you may be coming out of school with little professional experience, internships or work-study jobs are a great way to start building your resume before your first job after college. By getting to know the business and finding ways to contribute meaningfully to work (even above and beyond your job description), you’ll start to adapt the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. You may even meet your future boss!

An internship can also alleviate a bit of the stress while looking for a full-time job. Plus, it can help you apply what you learned in school to practical work situations.

Study for job interviews like final exams

Before you go into a job interview, don’t just look at the company’s website and job posting for information. Dive into the organization’s newsroom or social media channels for recent news. Research their competitors and stay “in the know” with industry news. You want to come into an interview with a wealth of knowledge and dressed for success, because sometimes you only get one chance to “wow” someone.

Above all, treat your job search like a full-time job. Set aside an amount of time each day to sit down to comb through job postings and interact with potential employers. When you find the full-time job you’ve been looking for, you’ll be thankful you were so diligent during your search!

footnote Sallie Mae does not provide, and these materials are not meant to convey, financial, tax, or legal advice. Consult your own financial advisor, tax advisor, or attorney about your specific circumstances.

footnote External links and third-party references are provided for informational purposes only. Sallie Mae cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by any third parties and assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions contained therein. Any copyrights, trademarks, and/or service marks used in these materials are the property of their respective owners.

footnote 1.,of%20recruiters%20use%20social%20media, as of 5/20/2023.

footnote 2.,after%20completing%20their%20training%20period, as of 5/20/2023.