1. Don’t sell yourself short.
I know every weird uncle of yours has probably said something stupid to you like “college degrees are basically the same as high school diplomas now, good luck!” but you should be proud of the work you just did, and apply for jobs that require the degree you just worked so goddamn hard for. When you don’t get responses right away, you might be tempted to apply at the local shopping mall just because you are desperate to secure a job. And that’s totally fine, and there’s nothing wrong with working any job that you want to work – but don’t let yourself be convinced that you’re not smart enough or worthy enough for that ~big girl job~ you’ve spent the last four years preparing for just because the job market is a little nasty and difficult these days.
2. Don’t be too picky, either.
Then again – there may come a point in your job search where you really just need something. Not even just financially speaking, but emotionally speaking – if you sit around for too long, you might start to feel crazy, and should really just do something to get up and out of the house. You get a bit of a grace period post-grad to live with your parents and find yourself, but if you aren’t employed in some capacity after a few months, you may want to consider lowering your standards a bit. At the end of the day, a job is a job.
3. Be patient. Be really
If you’re applying in March and saying your availability begins in May, you might not hear back right away. Your résumé might sit in a pile for months waiting to get sifted though, and you might hear back later than you expect. You also may apply to like, 300 jobs and go on 50 interviews before you find one that works out. You just need a shit ton of patience for this.
4. Set aside expectations.
You may have spent your entire college career picturing yourself going down a certain career path, or, at the very least, picturing yourself at some semblance of a traditional 9-to-5. While it is excellent to have goals and to actively work towards them, you may need to inject a little wiggle room into your expectations. There are so many different ways to be employed these days, and your degree and other experiences qualify you to do so many different jobs you may not even be aware of yet. You may have seen yourself in a pantsuit working the 9-to-5 office grind, and then find a place for yourself working in a service job, or cobbling together a living with a bunch of different side hustles. You also may find that you’re qualified for a job you had no prior interest in, because you had your heart set on one particular career path. Maybe you’ll try something brand new, completely unrelated. And you might be happier for it! Have you goal, work towards it, but don’t be afraid to stray.
5. Know that “settling” isn’t always “settling”.
Just because you find a job that is different than the one you expected, or end up finding full time work in a position that requires nothing more than a high school degree (or less!), remind yourself that you might actually not be settling. Remind yourself that you went to college for knowledge, not just for a job. Remind yourself that there are so many different jobs in the world, and someone has to do each one of them, and if you’re happy and you love what you do, no one – especially yourself – should look down on you for it. You might have gotten a business degree and then realized you were passionate about being a waitress, or studied biology and then became a daycare teacher. Who cares? You learned stuff, and you’re earning a living. That’s pretty amazing.
6. Don’t get too spiritual about it – it is work.
You’ll probably get a few graduation cards from loved ones with motivational messages to slow down and not take it all so seriously, which is sweet advice, and you should definitely enjoy this time as you should enjoy any other time in your life. But graduating is a huge milestone, and finding work and establishing yourself on a career path is hard work. So enjoy the ride, but don’t get distracted by motivational Pinterest memes telling you that you don’t need a job to survive – you most likely need a job to survive.
7. Do your research.
The interviewee who takes the time to research the company and the position prior to the interview is the one who will be the most valuable. You’d be surprised how far basic knowledge about a company’s mission or organizational culture or specifics of the position itself will get you in the interviewing world. Furthermore, doing research about the position will help you better negotiate your salary, should you get an offer. Which leads to the next.
8. Negotiate your damn salary.
Because you’re expected to, and you should. But, like I said, do your research.
9. Be respectful and grateful, but don’t be weird.
Example: Definitely follow up when you apply for a job. Definitely don’t follow up every day. (You’ll look like an asshole.) Another example: Definitely send a thank you message. Preferably, send a handwritten thank you note. (It is more likely to get read than an email – unsolicited emails tend to be sent straight to spam or trash.) But definitely don’t send flowers or a basket of muffins or something weird to your interviewer. That’s not a good look – that is a lot more “Sad Tinder Date” than “Respectable Potential Employee”.
10. Focus on building yourself up, and not to compare.
Every time a college pal makes a gauche Facebook post announcing their new job, you’re going to want to drown your sorrows in rosé. You can do that — it is totally fine. (Invite me, please?) But remember that everyone is on a different path, with different experiences, skills, and networking connections. The girl who sat next to you and shopped online during lectures may get a job before you, and it’ll sting, but that’s life. Focus on you – build yourself up, take more classes, gain new experiences, learn new skills, and make yourself into that employee who gets Capital-H Hired. Work hard for the job that you will, inevitably, eventually get. It’ll happen, and you’ll forget all about this junk. (Then you can drink even more rosé to celebrate – and it’ll taste even sweeter.)
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