It’s been a few months since you took that long walk and received your college diploma. You’ve put a resume on LinkedIn. You’ve sent letters and emails to everyone you know about job openings. But there are still few to no responses.
So what do you do next? According to Kevin Nall, director of employer relations in Baylor University’s office of career and professional development, you need to get some momentum going.
“Not having a job for one to three months isn’t so bad,” Nall said. “What sends up red flags for potential employers is if you graduated in May and you’re still looking for that first job in December. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s problematic, and it’s something a recruiter will be looking at while considering you.”
A recent study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that nearly 20 percent of Spring 2014 graduates were still looking for employment six months after graduation. If those numbers are consistent for the same time period this year, that means there are thousands of recent grads still searching.
Nall offered some tips to help fill the time gap between commencement and that first professional paycheck.
1. Reconnect with your school’s career center. Nall said a university’s career center is equipped to counsel recent graduates during the job search – from resumes and cover letters to interviews and salary negotiations. “For whatever reason, some recent graduates don’t have an idea of where to go or what to do,” Nall said. “That’s what career centers are for. At Baylor, we help our students and our alumni with each step of the job search process.”
2. Build a network through family, friends and professional organizations. Parents, relatives and friends who have just started new jobs can often provide integral networks, Nall said. Another option is to join a professional group. “Many professional organizations will have student membership rates, but if you’re not able to pay for that, you should at least be hitting their websites and looking for job openings,” Nall said.
3. Attend your alma mater’s career fairs. Spring graduates who haven’t found a job by August need to polish their resumes and be the first people through the doors at their universities’ fall career fairs, Nall said, adding that businesses who attend career fairs are typically in the market for new hires.
4. Take an internship. Paid or unpaid, it doesn’t matter. “If they’re still searching after several months, I would push for a post-graduate internship because it shows that they’re still on an educational path,” Nall said. “If you can afford it, even an unpaid internship would work. The caveat is that it pertains to the area you’d like to go into professionally.”
5. Beef up your LinkedIn profile. “LinkedIn is a huge tool for those searching for a job to use,” Nall said. “You can log in immediately and connect with alumni from your school. That helps you start with a very large network and you have instant access to those people.”
6. Be willing to relocate. A job seeker’s willingness to relocate to another state or another region naturally expands the opportunities, Nall said. “If you’re a 22-year-old graduate with no commitment to a geographic region, I’d expand that search,” Nall said. “That also shows a willingness to be flexible.”