The time has come and you’ve just barely finished throwing your cap up in the air at graduation when it dawns on you that now is the time to enter the “real world.”
By “real world” we mean the place where you’ll suddenly need to start supporting yourself (aka adulting).
But what do you do if you’ve coasted through your college years soaking up the fun and not working on much more than your social life (and of course your grades too!)?
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Here we will talk about how you can get hired even with little or no work experience under your belt.
How many college graduates have no jobs?
If you are one of the many graduates who hasn’t found work yet, you’re not alone.
In fact, a recent survey of year 2020 graduates showed that 45% of them are still without work.
This fact can be hard to grasp given that we are told every day that there are millions of job openings just waiting to be filled, but many different factors contribute to this percentage, and finding work is not always as easy as it seems.
What percentage of college students don’t get a job after they graduate?
Another recent analysis of the class of 2020 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), showed that only about 50% of the graduates that year found full-time jobs within 6 months after they walked across the stage (or dialed in on Zoom) to receive their degree.
This number is the worst outcome that college graduates have seen in many years (the NACE only started tracking in 2014).
How long does it take a college graduate to find a job?
If you’re thinking that your dream job will come along practically as soon as you have that prized paper in your hand, think again.
Even before the pandemic year of 2020, it could take college graduates at least 3-6 months to find employment, and even then, many are working in positions that do not require their bachelor’s degree.
Now you’re really wondering what that $100,000 school loan was really for, aren’t you?
What counts as work experience?
There are many things that you can consider as “work experience”. Work experience means you have learned skills or received the knowledge of a specific career field and it’s usually during a short period of time.
Young adults tend to have work experience so they can learn what it is like to do specific types of work.
Here are some common questions about specific experiences that may be considered “work experience”:
I will mention that some recent college graduates have received their masters in a specific field. This might deem the question of “does masters count as work experience”? Unfortunately, getting a master’s degree does not count as work experience.
Since you are still learning and in school, you aren’t technically in the “real world” working.
However, if your master’s degree requires an internship apprenticeship or residency of some sort – then the answer would be yes, your master’s degree internship or master’s degree apprenticeship would be considered work experience.
Another question that gets asked is “does research assistant count as work experience”? The answer would be yes, if you are, or were, a research assistant, that is considered work experience.
Why do college graduates struggle to find jobs?
Numerous reasons contribute to the struggle that many new college graduates endure to find their first “real” job.
It doesn’t help that even though college is expensive (like really, really expensive), more high school graduates than ever are attending it, which means more are graduating, there’s more competition after graduation, and so on.
Just look at some of these potential reasons and you can see there are definitely concrete things you can work on to get ahead.
Additionally, if you do have work experience on your resume and are ready to get started on your job hunt, here are 11 tips for getting your first job out of college.
How do I get a job after college with no experience?
Many questions pop up in the minds of recent college graduates that don’t have any work experience from their school days.
In fact, a topic most forums have are about graduating college with no work experience reddit users search for.
So now that you’ve decided what types of jobs you want to apply for, you realize that all the postings have some sort of version of “experience needed” in their requirements.
But how do you get the experience if you can’t get the job?
By concentrating on certain tangible things you can do, like networking, volunteering, highlighting your extracurricular activities, etc., you can show that you have experience without actually having experience – if you know what I mean.
For example, some may ask does volunteering count as work experience? The answer is yes, volunteering does count as work experience, especially if you can relate it to any skills that the job description looks for.
I know, I know, now you’re getting discouraged and ready to turn right back towards school and start a whole new major. But I’ve got your back!
Below are 11 tips that will help you land your first job in no time, even if you have little or no experience.
You can thank me later.
Tip #1 Highlight All Those Fun Clubs You Joined
Remember when you signed up for basically everything at college so you could meet people and explore your interests? All of those things count!
Think about how each extracurricular activity translates into real-world job skills and reflect on those in a way that appeals to potential employers.
Did being the captain of the tennis team give you leadership skills? Highlight that.
Did your hours dedicated to the debate team make you an expert communicator? Let your potential employer know!
Tip #2 Reach Out To Who You Know… Everyone You Know!
You have a bigger social network than you realize and these days it’s easier than ever to reach out to them and start networking.
Use LinkedIn to connect with old acquaintances and contacts (like that neighbor you helped with yardwork all those summers back at home).
People from all parts of life can provide you with connections or advice to lead you to your next job.
Remember how your prom date’s older brother has a job at that company you’ve been eyeing? Don’t be afraid to reach out!
Tip #3 Build Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
It goes without saying that you’ll need to have a professional social presence on LinkedIn and a good entry-level resume to even be considered for a worthwhile position.
Consider creating a functional resume for your linkedin profile instead of a chronological one, which can be helpful if you don’t have a lot of work experience to list.
It doesn’t hurt to have a few good references lined up that you can add as well.
Tip #4 Try An Internship
I know some of you may ask yourself, “Do internships count as work experience?” The answer is yes, internships do count as work experience.
Some people do internships while they are still in school, however, you are here because you are graduating and you probably don’t have any internships under your belt.
Yes, I know, you thought that internships were something you should have done back before you graduated, but it’s a different job market now.
A lot of employers and recent grads are looking for internships as the new entry-level job.
Find an internship at a company that really interests you and you’ll have a better chance of landing a full-time job there after it is completed.
After all, if you’ve spent 10-12 weeks learning the ropes of a company, they’re more likely to make an investment in you versus someone else.
Tip #5 Highlight All Of Your Accomplishments
This tip goes hand-in-hand with #1 on the list. In the same way that showing how your extracurricular activities provided real-world skills, you can also focus on other types of accomplishments in college and include them on your resume.
These things include any awards you may have received, any publications you were featured in or wrote for, and even if you consistently made the Dean’s list.
Just make sure they are relevant in some way to the desired position.
Tip #6 Consider Part-Time Work
Yes, we all want to be able to jump into our dream job right out of college, or at least land an entry-level position within our dream company, but as we’ve learned, that is not often the case.
Consider part-time work as a way to get your foot in the door of a company or a field.
Love interior design? Consider working as a sales clerk for that high-end home decor store in town.
It will expose you to the industry and maybe even lead you to some connections (i.e., clients shopping there) that will help you find your dream job.
Tip #7 Try Something Outside Of Your Desired Field
Think outside the box a little bit here.
The skills and experience you gained while completing your degree may actually translate into a position not so commonly associated with your desired field.
You may face less competition in entry-level positions if you seek out jobs that others with your degree aren’t commonly seeking out themselves.
You might also realize that you have a different passion than you thought, or that the new skills and connections you made eventually do bring you to your dream job!
Tip #8 Consider Making A Move (Yes, To A New City)
It can be hard to embrace a lot of changes at once and certainly daunting to think about starting over in a new city or state without the security of friends and family nearby.
However, for certain majors and fields, a geographical move may make sense and help you to land a good position.
Look at the top cities that are hiring candidates with your major and consider whether a move to where the growth is might be a great investment in your future.
Tip #9 Find a Mentor In Your Dream Job
Even if you don’t land your dream job right away, you can connect with someone who already does it themselves.
As mentioned before, social networking makes it so easy to connect with many people located all over the world.
Use LinkedIn to find someone in your area doing the job that you want to do and reach out to connect with them.
You might find that they are happy to mentor you (virtually or in-person) and that mentorship will no doubt lead you to connections and future opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask!
Tip #10 Learn As Much As You Can About Your Potential Employer
So you’ve actually scored an interview with a company that piques your interest, that’s great! But there’s still more work to do before you go in for that important meeting.
Research as much about that company as you can before walking in the doors (trust me, it’s even more important than your outfit).
That way, even if you might not have a ton of experience, you can tell the employer-specific things that you could do to help the company meet its goals.
Once they know you’ve done your research and have great ideas, they just might take a chance and extend you that offer!
Tip #11 Goal Setting
Now that you know what you can do to stand out from the rest of the crowd, you are ready to start that “5-year-plan”!
Well, maybe not quite yet, but goal setting is an important part of the career planning process.
Here’s a great guide to helping you set and achieve your career goals.
And there you have it! 11 ways you can get a job – even with little or no work experience.
Remember, not to stress – college graduates have been facing these issues for years and eventually, something always falls into place.
I hope you have enjoyed the tips in this article and good luck on your job hunt!
Have a question or idea related to this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a comment below.
Until next time…