Though your college education may have helped you learn how to build a rocket engine, write a 50-page research paper, or design a software program, there’s a good chance that figuring out how to land that first job right after college is a new skill you could use some help with. That’s why we’re here. Our CA Launch team specializes in helping springboard recent or soon-to-be grads into their careers. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your job hunt.

Create a LinkedIn Profile Recruiters Will Find

As soon as you finish reading this sentence, go set up a profile on LinkedIn is, by a longshot, the best social media tool for professional networking. Not only can a strong profile help recruiters find you (think of your profile as a streamlined resume that hiring managers can easily find), but this is a great place to start organizing and growing your network.

  1. Recruiters search for job candidates using keywords, so think about how you can include those in your profile naturally, given what your experience and what kind of job you want. For instance, if you studied software engineering and that is your career of choice, make sure to use that phrase, along with other relevant key phrases (Python, Java, coding, etc.) in the sections of your profile that describe your skills and experience. Having these keywords makes it more likely that a recruiter will stumble across your profile during a search.
  2. In the backend settings of your profile, make sure the “Open to Opportunities” option is toggled on. This setting sends your profile to the top of the results when recruiters perform a search.
  3. Add a professional profile photo. It may seem unimportant, but profiles with photos get many more views than those without.

Grow and Leverage Your Network

Research on hiring trends shows that having a strong network is a massive boon to anyone’s job search, so it’s worth taking time to intentionally grow and leverage yours. Start with LinkedIn to add any professionals you know. Be creative. This can include professors, your parents’ friends, former employers, classmates, people you’ve interviewed with, etc. In addition to that:

  1. Maintain contact with the biggest players in your network and stay active in this professional realm. Keep up friendly relations, rather than just reaching out to people when you want something (like a referral or recommendation letter).
  2. Connect with people on LinkedIn quickly after meeting them. Make a habit of this, and you’ll grow your network in no time.
  3. Keep an eye on what your network is posting. Often, professionals will share job listings for their company on LinkedIn. Reach out to them if you’re interested and see if you could get a kind referral.

Master the Job Application Process

Applying for jobs is a skill that you develop over time. Here are just a few tips to help you master the process:

  1. Clarify your goals. Work your way down from the question “what do I need?,” to “what do I want?”, to “what should I apply for?” Taking just a bit of time to get clear will save you time applying for roles that aren’t a fit.
  2. Maintain best practices with your resume. While this is a whole training session on its own, here’s a short list of those: (1) 1 page in length, if possible, (2) professional formatting and grammar, (3) tailored for the job you’re applying for, and (4) accompanied by a well-crafted cover letter that you customize for each application.
  3. Prepare for the interview! We’ve put together some tips in another blog that covers this topic in depth.
  4. After your interview, follow up with a brief email thanking them for their time and letting them know that you want the job (if you do) to show them you are interested.

Stay Hopeful, but Manage Expectations

If this is your first time on the job hunt, take this to heart: it may take a while, and you may have to apply for a lot of positions before you are hired. Resist the temptation to think that this says something about you; this is just the reality of finding the right fit.

One study showed that on average, 5 candidates will be interviewed out of 250 applicants, and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics says it takes 24 weeks on average to find a job. In other words; finding a new job is hard. But don’t lose hope! Be persistent, follow these tips, and with luck, you will land the new job that jumpstarts your career.