Searching for your first job out of college can be a daunting task. While it may seem like graduation is forever away, it’s actually right around the corner. Not only do you have to learn how to apply for your first real job, you have to figure out which jobs you even want to apply for. Between tweaking your resume and creating cover letters, you’ll quickly realize you can’t apply for every opening. With your limited time, you have to choose which jobs to apply for and what jobs end up being passed over. So here are five tips on figuring out which jobs you should be applying for.
#1. Pick your priority
Figure out what your priority is when job searching. Many people won’t even consider job searching outside of the area in which they live, while others are looking for an escape. There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out which job you’ll want, and if you know what your #1 priority is, deciding whether or not to apply for a job makes it that much easier. Here are some different factors to help you find your priority:
- Location – Many people are tied to one area due to family or their significant others. To them, relocating isn’t an option. Others would like nothing more than a change of scenery; therefore, relocating isn’t a problem.
- Pay/ Salary – We all need money, but for some people the desire for high pay trumps all other potential priorities.
- Opportunity for Advancement – Especially if it’s your first job, potential advancement opportunities can make a big difference, as you don’t have to switch employers for upward mobility.
- Specific Job Field – This may seem like a given for your search, but if you found a job outside of your field that meet all your other requirements, would the field matter?
- Benefits Package – Typically not the #1 priority, but flexibility, vacation time, healthcare, dental, daycare, or even student loan repayment vary greatly from one employer to the next.
- Making a Difference – Not all jobs pay well monetarily, but instead rely more on the feeling of making a positive difference in the world.
- Employer Size – Working at a major company has a lot of exciting benefits to some people. Or maybe you’d feel more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate type of setting?
- Job Security – Getting that first job is no good if you are laid off right away. If this is your priority, you may be willing to compromise for a job with decent security.
#2 Remember, it’s your first job, not your dream job
If your first job happens to end up being your dream job, congratulations! For the rest of us who make an average of seven career changes in our working lives, the key to a successful first job is using it as a launching pad. Look for jobs that have advancement opportunities or marketable skills to help you propel yourself throughout your career.
You don’t want to end up in a job you hate, but it’s important to remember that this job can be a valuable experience to help land you your dream job down the road. This is especially true if you are leaving college without a lot of experience in your field.
Keep in mind that the salary will be entry-level, as well. Don’t be surprised if you’re not offered the median salary in your industry since you don’t have much, if any, field experience. If you do well, you can earn your advancement in pay or position by moving up within the company or with another employer.
#3 Know yourself
Before you accept a job, be sure that it’s a job you want and not one that parents, counselors, or friends want for you. Hopefully you have had enough life experience to know not only what your priorities are, but what equates to a deal-breaker for you. Does a typical 9-5 sound ideal or does working varied hours sound more appealing? Do you prefer to travel for work or would you prefer to be in the same location every day? Be sure it’s what you actually want or you could be back to job searching again before you know it. This job needs to fit your current lifestyle, not only the “what-if” scenarios you’ve considered for your future.
#4 It takes time (and it might be your job for a while)
Unemployment is not much fun after the first couple weeks, as concerns about being able to pay your bills—and eventually student loans—become reality. It takes time to fill out applications and tweak your resume for each job. Remember that until you find your full-time job, your job is to job search. It is exhausting applying for various jobs for eight hours a day, but it’s better than not being able to make your ends meet.
#5 Utilize your network
If you’re still in school, you’re going to want to take advantage of all those free lunches and other events put on to meet your professors and other staff. Not only do these people have connections outside of your college, they can also be great resources for the future. Talk to them and find out how they got their foot in the door! Don’t be shy about asking for an informational interview from these people. Many have a vested interest in seeing you succeed and will go out of their way to help you. Just be sure to make a good impression while you still can!