You’re graduating, so now what? Like it or not, your clock is ticking. If you have student loans you know you only have six months to land your dream job, but you have no clue how to apply, or what to apply for, or what your resume should look like. Many of us are ready to graduate, but not ready for what’s after.

Begin applying now.

Look into different jobs you think you would be interested in, and don’t hesitate, think of it as extra practice if you end up second-guessing yourself. Getting a job today is a full-time job itself. You have to put lots of time into your search to gain a successful result. Some of the main mistakes recent grads make is not applying for enough jobs. Forbes magazine stated, “44% of students only apply to between one and five jobs at a time,” when students should be applying for as many as 30-40 jobs at once.

Don’t be discouraged.

Applying for jobs takes a lot of time, and you’re going to be putting a lot of effort into your application, but the reality is that you may not get an interview or even a call back. Remember there are hundreds of jobs out there, and they get thousands of applicants, so you have to make yourself stand out. Create a unique cover letter, or attach a mini portfolio with your application. By making yourself more unique, you are more likely to get noticed. Remember to follow up with your applications as well. It never hurts to call and see if your application has been reviewed, or ask advice if your application wasn’t received well.

Show your interest.

Whether you are in an interview or writing your cover letter, show your interest in the company. Present yourself as ready to learn, ready to discover more, ready to become part of a company.  My best advice is to independently research each company, find their objectives or motto, and think about how this applies to your goals and what you could contribute to the companies. Use that knowledge to stem your inspiration to connect to each company and make an appeal for yourself; remember when you’re applying for jobs you are actually selling yourself.

Look the Part.

If you do happen to get offered an interview, you need to look the part. Yes, college is expensive, but you’re going to have to spend some money on some nice clothes to get yourself a job. Dress conservatively, professionally and fit in. It’s good to show personality, but don’t overwhelm your interview outfit with large feathers or pink pants. Come prepared with questions you have about the job and the company; this will not only show them you’re interested in moving forward towards a job, but you’re also personally interested in the company themselves. Be engaging– in conversation, in eye contact– and show positive body language as you interview.

Job-hunting is competitive, time-consuming, exhausting  and filled with hope and discouragement at the same time. You have to keep your eyes on your personal goals and make sure to use that as your motivation to keep going through the process. If you’re struggling or don’t know where to start there are plenty of resources like to help your search. If you have questions about your resume or cover letter, used campus resources like Career Services Resume Cart. The resources are all around you, but you have to use them.

No one can get you a job, but you. You the graduate. You the applicant. You the future employee.

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Cassandra Tokach

Cassandra graduated in 2014 with a BA in English. She is from Savage, MN and her hobbies include reading, journaling, enjoying nature and being active outdoors.

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