It’s been eight months since I graduated college. I wish that I had gone into post grad life knowing so many of the things I have only now begun to understand. In my opinion, there are two routes you can take once rejection comes your way: disappointment or perseverance. Here is some advice for the latter road.
1. Be Patient
It can take on average three to nine months before you land your first full time job. While I was a senior at University, my naive self thought that I’d get job offers within a month or two. I didn’t get my first full time job offer until six months after I graduated. If you’re one of the few who got a job offer before you even walked across the stage during graduation, consider yourself very luck and fortunate.
For most of us who aren’t the stable engineering or grad school bound type, it can take a very long time before offers or even an offer arrives. It’s important to be patient and make the most out of your wait. You can get a part-time job in the mean time or work on enhancing your skills. Take the unemployment stage as a chance to pursue your dreams on your own terms or get into some hobbies you never had time for. Because if you don’t stay positive and patient your only other option is to worry and wallow in self-pity. Trust me, it’s not worth it. Instead, be productive and be patient. Your time will come.
2. Do NOT Compare Yourself to Others
It can be hard not to get disappointed when your friends are getting jobs before you. You can start to compare yourself to other’s and ask, ‘Why not me? What do I have that she doesn’t? I should’ve gotten that job.’ But comparison is a trap. It only leaves you feeling more dejected and disappointed than before. The truth is that you’ll always find someone who is more skilled, more talented, and better off than you. You lose every time. Rather than comparing yourself to others you need to compare yourself today, to who you were yesterday. You are your only competition. Better yourself each day, and work harder than the last to reach your goals.
Also, it’s important to recognize that everyone is on their own journey and timeline. You can’t keep on comparing yourself to others when every individual has different dreams, goals, and experiences. You just have to focus on yourself and try to keep moving forward.
3. Don’t Neglect Your Resume or Cover Letter
A few weeks ago I decided to change jobs. I looked at my resume and cover letter and realized how much I needed to change and improve. Hiring managers have hundreds of thousands of resumes submitted to them on a weekly basis. Your’s needs to stand out. Brag about yourself as much as possible on your resume and tailor it to each position you apply for. Make sure to submit a well-written cover letter also. Some hiring staff won’t even consider an application without a cover letter, even if it is “optional.” Be safe and write a cover letter. Have someone with experience proof read your cover letter and look over your resume as well. Every detail counts. So don’t be sloppy in your approach.
4. Actively Pursue Positions
If you are a recent graduate and have only applied to a handful of positions, that is not enough. During the first month of my post grad life I applied to nearly 100 jobs. Since graduation I’ve probably applied to over 300 positions. Basically anything with the title I was hoping for, I applied to. You need to be vigorous in your job search. Set apart a time every morning for three to four hours purely for job hunting and submitting applications.
Also, don’t restrict yourself to just one type of position. I started my job search applying for only editorial positions but on a whim I applied to a content writing position, and that is the one I got accepted for. Widen your field and broaden your expectations on what you’d like your first job to be.
5. Entry Level Doesn’t Always Mean Entry Level
Anyone who has lived as an unemployed post grad will understand the fury of clicking on a position that interests you, reading through the description, and then seeing the need for 1-3 year of experience. Many “entry-level” position are no longer entry-level. In fact, most require 1-3 or 3-5 years of experience before even applying. It can be extremely frustrating.
Just make sure to carefully read each job ad and make sure you qualify. There is no use in applying to hundreds of jobs that you don’t have the experience for because you won’t even get a response. When you don’t have the exact years of experience level but feel you are skilled enough to do the job well, make sure to apply. But, if you have no experience at all in that field yet, do not waste your time by applying.
6. Reach Out to Old Connections and Make New Ones
Make use of your past connections and reach out to them for any available positions. Even if it is part time, interning, shadowing, or freelancing it is counted as experience and can be put on your resume. Reach out to past internships, professors, past jobs and simply ask if there are any positions available for you. Even if there isn’t, this can lead to new connections and recommendations. Maintaining work relationships will always help you in the long run.
7. Your First Job will NOT be Your Dream Job
This for me, was very hard to learn. I am very idealistic and a huge dreamer. But having these enormous expectations for my first job was truly detrimental. I did not realize that I would be doing something I did not completely enjoy. When I did realize that my reality did not fit into my ridiculous expectations I quit my first job, which was a bad choice on my part.
Your first job will most likely be mundane, tedious and overexerting, but it is still a job. You still get to be employed which is better than unemployment no matter how bored you may be. Your first job is not going to fulfill your dreams in life, but it is still one step closer than before.
8. You have to Endure
Do not quit! I had to learn that the hard way. Quitting will not give you freedom, it will take you further away from your goals. Even if you hate your first job at least it is in the same field of what you’d like to do in the future. If it isn’t in the same arena, at least you have an income and another bullet on your resume which will help you get a better job later on. Most post grads try to stay at their first full time job for two years. Endure the monotony for now so that one day you can do what you truly want to do.
9. Your Inner Voice Needs to Be the Loudest
While on the tumultuous journey of post grad life you can get a lot of advice from a lot of different people. Your family can tell you to pursue elsewhere, your friends can tell you to modify your dreams, people can tell you money is the most important thing. While getting practical advice from trusted people can be helpful, it shouldn’t be the main dictator of your actions.
You need to be firm in your convictions of what you want to do in life from the very beginning. If you don’t have that rock solid confidence you can be swayed into a career you never even wished for yourself. Listen to your dreams, your skills, your passions. Don’t treat them as unnecessary fluff but treat them as a valuable asset for your career and a happy and fulfilling life. It is possible to have a job and a career that you enjoy and that you have dreamed of. Many of the people who tell you to give up on your dreams are the people who gave up on their’s.
10. Dreams Take a Very Long Time to Achieve
Again, my naive self expected after graduation that all my dreams would come true. That is most definitely not the case for anyone. Your dreams will not come true after graduation for a very long time. It will take years and decades even. But if you keep the fire burning and keep working hard you will get there. Some people will tell you that dreams are childish and naive. But I think maintaining and pursuing your dreams is incredibly brave. So many people give up before even trying. Sure you may fail. But at least you tried. At least you lived a live without regrets and one you can be proud of. So no matter where you are after graduation or where you end up a year in, don’t ever lose sight of your dreams.
Hopefully these tips will give you a more realistic approach to tackling post grad life. Remember, the journey is long but you need to be patient, focused, and persevere. Nothing worth having comes easily.