How to jump start your career after graduation

Now that you’ve completed your degree (congratulations!), it’s time to start making moves to kick-start your career. Throwing yourself into the hiring process can seem incredibly daunting,
but there are a number of things you can do in tandem with your job hunt to make the whole process easier and to make yourself into the most viable candidate possible. Don’t know where to begin? Here are a few suggestions to help you on your path.

Utilize your network

Over the course of your college career, you will have met a number of fellow students and professors who could potentially be your colleagues in the future. When it comes time to leave
your school, make sure you don’t let the connections you’ve built fade entirely from existence. Stay in contact with the people who you think will be valuable to know as you start to build your
career, and be proactive about reaching out to them for advice, recommendations, or references as you begin to apply to positions where their input would be useful.

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It’s also wise to consider other connections you have with people that you might not regard as part of your professional “network”. In some cases, friends and relatives will know people in your
field that would be willing to offer you the same sort of assistance as those you’ve already professionally connected with, so don’t be afraid to say something to your loved ones about your job hunt and see if they can do anything to help you out.

Grow your network

Now that you’re out of college, it can be difficult to find opportunities to meet new people. You’re no longer on a campus filled with people and professionals connected to your desired job field, so making more connections that will help you advance your career post-grad can be a challenge. However, the more people you know that are willing and able to vouch for your capabilities as you’re applying for jobs, the better your chances are of landing that dream position.

Do a little digging on Facebook and see if there are any community pages you can join that are relevant to your job interests. Research groups and organizations in your area that are related
to your career field, and see if it’s possible for you to begin attending some of their meetings. If you’re unable to land an interview at first with a company that feels like a perfect fit for you, see
if they would permit you to shadow employees in your desired department to continue learning about what working in that kind of environment would entail. You never know who you might meet through these experiences that will be able to help you move forward in your career in addition to your existing network.

Continue building your credentials

Once you’ve completed your degree and are done taking classes, it can feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. But don’t let your inner learner disappear completely now that you’re out of the classroom! To ensure that you’re as well-prepared and qualified for the roles to which you’ll be applying as possible, take the time to seek out opportunities to continue developing and adding to your skillset.

Look into any odd jobs or freelance work you might be able to perform on the side that will help you to build a portfolio and hone your abilities even further. There are a number of things you can learn through being active in your job field in a smaller capacity before you land a long-term position, and by pursuing as much experience as you can, you’ll be making yourself into a more
attractive candidate in the eyes of the companies you’ll be looking to work for.

Stabilize your personal life

When you leave college, it can feel like aspects of your personal life have been thrown into chaos. You might be moving back in with your parents and away from all of the friends you
made; your finances might be a bit more unstable with student loan payments starting to roll in; and the impending sense of important change is more than a little anxiety-inducing. It can be hard to know where to begin with bringing balance and order back into your life, but there are at least a few steps you can take to ease the stress and make it easier to focus on starting your
career path.

Reconnect with old friends that might still be living in your area, and make it a priority to keep in consistent touch with your college pals—you’ll all benefit from continuing to support one another
as you try to navigate the adult world. Find a part-time job to supplement your income while you’re looking for full-time work, and keep careful track of your spending and saving habits through a mobile banking app to make sure you aren’t living beyond your current means. It is also a good idea to consider automating your savings to ensure you are always setting aside some money for an emergency fund. If you’re planning on staying in the same area (whether it’s your hometown or college town), start putting down roots! Sign a lease for an apartment, join a local recreational sports team, or go on a mission to find the best restaurants in town. Do what you can to make yourself feel most at home wherever you end up living, and the feelings of
turmoil clouding your personal life will likely start to lessen.

Go the extra mile

After a certain point, the resumes of candidates with similar backgrounds and qualifications for a position can start to blur together for the employer reviewing them. None of the resumes are bad, per se, but there is little that makes any of those near-identical applicants stand out from the rest. Don’t let this happen to you!

Whether it’s through a unique style of formatting the resume, listing an unusual-but-somehow- still-relevant array of experiences or going full Elle Woods and printing your credentials onto a
scented pink sheet of paper, do something that will make your potential employers remember you in a positive way. You want to be able to build a career that you’ll love, and one of the first
steps in doing so is getting someone to take a chance on you, so it’s important that you take measures to impress those who might hire you and to demonstrate that you are, by far, the best
choice for the position.