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How I Got A Job Within A Month Of Graduation

How To Get A Job After Graduation

This time two years ago, I was throwing a graduation cap in the air and saying goodbye to some of the coolest people I’ve ever met.

I graduated from college with a degree in sociology having no idea what I wanted to do, where I wanted to work, or even where to start looking. It didn’t help that sociology was basically considered a career-less job.

For any recent grads who are struggling to find a job, check out this guide that helped me get a job within a month of graduation! Includes resume and cover letter templates, as well as a worksheet to guide you through the process.

But somehow I managed to navigate my way through the terrifying and confusing mess that is applying for a real-person job, and somewhere along the way, I landed a pretty damn good entry-level job.

But it took 60 applications, 5 interviews, and a hell of a lot of worrying to get there.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because if you’re a recent graduate and you’re feeling completely lost, I want you to know that it’s going to be okay. I wish there was some sort of guide for recent grads when I was applying for jobs, but I had to rely on any random tips I could find on WikiHow.

So I’m making this guide for you because I was lucky enough to get a job within a month of graduation, something I know a lot of recent grads really struggle with. Maybe you think a month seems impossible, maybe you think it seems too long, but I believe that being persistent and trying everything you can will eventually get you where you want to be (even if you’re not sure where that is just yet!).

STEP ONE | GET ORGANIZED

How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful Mind

The first step before you start applying for jobs is to get everything organized. Now, being organized alone is not going to get you a job, but it will definitely help keep you sane.

I use OneDrive for saving all of my documents, but you could use any cloud program or your desktop. I created a folder called Postgrad and added three folders within that called Applications, Portfolio, and Materials.

Applications

To keep track of every job I applied to, I made a new folder for each organization and saved the version of the cover letter and resume I applied with. This prevents anything from getting lost in the abyss of documents.

Portfolio

I created a portfolio to save any work I could possibly share with a future employer. It’s always a good idea to send them examples of what you’re capable of, and creating a portfolio helps you keep everything in one place. You might include samples of your writing, any published school work, design or art work, or maybe something from your blog. This stuff will mostly be relevant if you’re trying to get into marketing, design, publishing, or another sort of ‘creative’ field.

Materials

Inside the materials folder, I included the following:

  1. A document of past job descriptions
  2. Cover letter template
  3. Resume template
  4. References template

How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful Mind

I keep a running document of every job I’ve ever had along with the tasks I did because sometimes when you’re applying for a job, a previous position or activity might not be relevant (FYI I did not work at Zillow lolz). This document makes it easy to just copy and paste the relevant information into your resume template. For example: for a writing position, I’m going to emphasize any previous positions that included writing assignments. I probably wouldn’t include that I used to work in retail.


Example >> Download the job description sample


How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful Mind
I suggest making a resume template first before filling it in. This way, you can have a template that’s easy to swap out information and make it relevant to each job you’re applying to. I didn’t come up with a fancy design because I wasn’t applying for the sort of job that might need this, but there are tons of ideas for creative resume designs on Creative Market if you want to spruce things up.

What goes on your resume?

  • Your contact information
  • University name, major, and GPA
  • Job/internship experience, 3-4 bullet points of your responsibilities, and the dates you were employed
  • Any relevant skills you have to offer (computer programs, design skills, languages, etc)
  • Any activities or volunteer experience with your title and dates of term

TIP: Keep your resume to one page, but try to make the font size no smaller than 11pt.


Example >> Download the resume template


How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful Mind

As with your resume, create a basic template for your cover letter and fill it out for each application. Make it look similar to your resume for consistency’s sake.

What goes into your cover letter?

  • Your contact info
  • Why you’re interested in the position
  • 2-3 paragraphs about your previous experience. Relate it back to how your skills could help the organization
  • A conclusion sentence
  • Say thank you and sign off with your name

TIP: Do not use the same cover letter and resume for every job you apply to. You always need to make it relevant to the position you’re going for. It’s tedious and basically the worst thing in the world, but unfortunately, you need to do it.


Example >> Download the cover letter template


How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful Mind

Even if a job application doesn’t require references, it’s never a bad idea to include them. Usually organizations will ask for 3 references. These can be previous bosses, internship supervisors, club advisors, academic advisors, professors, coaches, and co-workers. Make sure you provide their name, title, organization, contact phone and email, and relationship to you. Personal references are not a great idea.


Example >> Download the references template


Step Two | Search For Jobs

How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful MindWhen I left college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew what I was good at, so that was at least a start. If you’re feeling lost, think of all the jobs you don’t want to do and see what you’re left with.

I interned at a non-profit during my junior year, so I knew that experience might help me get a job at a non-profit, but entry level jobs at those organizations were rare and going quickly.

I started searching for jobs all day, everyday as soon as I could, and I applied to jobs in all kinds of fields (non-profits, marketing, social media, dental offices, universities).

I was so nervous about not getting a job that I was constantly looking. The two sites I used the most were Idealist.org (for non-profits) and Indeed.com. I can’t really give many other recommendations as those are the two I stuck to. If I knew of a particular employer I was interested in, I would also look at the ‘Careers’ section of their website.

Any time I found a job that seemed interesting, I saved it to my Bookmarks in a folder called ‘To Apply.’ I would save up to 50 in a day, and then go through and see what was actually realistic. I would end up cutting about 40 of them.

Step Three | Apply

How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful MindThe best thing to do when applying for jobs is to just get started. Try to work on only one application at a time so you don’t confuse yourself. I set a goal to apply to three jobs a day, which helped me from slacking off or trying to work on too many applications.

Creating Your Application Materials

When applying, fill out your resume first and then write your cover letter, referring back to positions mentioned in your resume. I highly recommend you send your documents as a PDF so the formatting holds from computer to computer.

Emailing Your Materials

Long gone are the days when you need to physically hand in your application. One girl even got a job by tweeting her resume to the CEO of Airbnb! But if that’s not your thing, the best way to format an email to a hiring manager is like so:

Subject: {Name of Position} Job Application

Dear Hiring Manager (or name of person if you can find it),

I recently found the description for the {Name of Position} with {Organization Name} on {name of website you found it}. I would love to meet with you and discuss this position further. I have attached my resume, cover letter, and references to this email.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

{Your Name}
{Your Phone Number}

Some how-to guides say to include your cover letter in the body of the email, while some say to attach it. If I were hiring someone, I would create a folder that included all of their attachments so I could print them out, so I think including your cover letter as an attachment is a good idea.

Create A Tracking Spreadsheet

Once you’ve started applying to jobs, made an excel spreadsheet to track the jobs you’ve applied to. This makes it a lot easier to follow up later and see how long ago you actually applied. And remember to save all of your final application materials in the Applications folder mentioned earlier.


Example >> Download the job tracking spreadsheet


Step Four | Don’t Get Discouraged

How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful MindThe first time you receive an email letting you know you’ve been declined, you’ll probably start to feel a little discouraged. The tenth time it happens, you’ll want to give up.

You just have to face the fact that you will be rejected, but the thing is that you get better and better at job applications as you keep applying.

You will start to get desperate, but keep applying. Persistence is  key. Your mom might tell you to just apply at TJ Maxx because she’s freaking out as well (thanks, mom).

Step Five | The Interview

 

How To Get A Job After Graduation - Interview Outfit Ideas | The Blissful Mind

Out of the 60 jobs I applied to, I was invited to interview for 3 of them. You may get asked for a phone interview first, but you may also just get an in-person interview.

Phone Interview Tips

The first one (my current job), I was first asked for a phone interview. To prepare for this, I printed out a copy of my resume and cover letter so that I could refer back to them and remember what my application looked like (all of my applications started to blur together eventually).

I also took a blank piece of paper and wrote down what I considered my top 3 strengths, just as a confidence booster and so that I could share that with the interviewer.  Here are the questions she asked me:

  • Tell me about some accomplishments that might benefit your role at this organization
  • What are your strengths?
  • Where do you want to grow?

After that interview, I was contact for an in-person interview.

In-Person Interview Tips

Prepare. Learn as much as you can about the organization before your interview. Watch their videos, check out their social media, stalk their Executive Director if you want. Just make sure you have a general understanding of their mission and brand. Bring copies of your application materials. Also, ask about directions and parking, and arrive early to your interview (even if it means sitting around in your car for 20 minutes).

What To Wear. Since I only interviewed for non-profits, I didn’t go for a business look or wear heels. I’ve included the exact outfits I wore to my interviews above, but if in doubt, wear slacks and a blouse. I love Ross and TJ Maxx for professional, affordable tops and Express for slacks.

What To Expect. They will most likely start off asking about your background and what interested you in the position. Expect questions about your strengths and weaknesses, what sort of work you enjoy, and how you overcome challenges. You may get an unexpected question such as, ‘What did your previous boss do that annoyed you?’ Try not to say anything negative about a previous employer.

Ask them questions. Try to get to know the interviewers as much as possible. Act like a genuinely interested human being. Ask them how they got started with the organization and what their favorite thing about working there is. Ask what a typical day would be like in the position you are applying for. Ask about the other staff positions and who you might be working with. Also ask about the benefits and vacation time.

Don’t make stuff up. If you get the job and you’ve told them you have experience doing something you’ve never before, it’s going to punch you in the face later. Tell them instead that you’re a quick learner, and maybe even watch a tutorial on the database or content management system they use before your interview.

Step Six | Follow Up

How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful MindYou made it through the interview! Now you need to follow up.

Say Thank You. I sent thank you emails after the interview thanking them for their time. Some people send thank you cards or letters, but I think that’s a little old fashioned.

Send Additional Materials. If you forgot to mention something or thought of a brilliant response to a question after the fact, just let the interviewer know. Send any additional materials, questions, or thoughts that you want to follow up with. This shows initiative and responsibility.

Tell Your References. Let your references know that you had an interview and that you put them down as a reference. This way they can be alert to the fact that they might get a call asking about you.

Step Seven | Accept The Job

How To Get A Job After Graduation | The Blissful MindIf you’ve been offered a job but aren’t sure that it’s exactly what you want, consider the benefits and perks. I actually had an interview with another organization that would offer a better salary, but I still hadn’t heard back from them. I had the choice to take this job or wait and hear back from the other one. I decided ultimately that I didn’t want to wait and end up being rejected, so I took this job (I didn’t get the other one anyway).

Some things to discuss before you sign a contract are the salary, how long the contract is, if there are health benefits, the hours, sick days, vacation time, and whether there is opportunity for growth (moving up in the organization, pay raises, etc). I was asked what I wanted my salary to be and I had absolutely no clue. On the application, it said the salary could range from $xx,000 – $xx,000 so I just picked a number in the middle and went for it.

And then go ahead and enjoy the fact that you are done with all of those applications and you have your first real-person job!

DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST

For any recent grads who are struggling to find a job, check out this guide that helped me get a job within a month of graduation! Includes resume and cover letter templates, as well as a worksheet to guide you through the process.

If you want a simple way to follow along with the tips mentioned in this post, print out the job search checklist!

Download


P.S. I’m not saying this is a fool-proof method for getting a job, but it did work for me and I really hope it works for you too! If you’ve already been through this process, please share your experience in the comments!


Tags : freebie
Catherine Beard
Hey, I'm Catherine! I'm a mindset & self-care coach, blogger, and the creator of The Blissful Mind. I’m here to help you enjoy less burnout and overwhelm in your life so you have the time, energy, and confidence to pursue what matters.

28 Comments

  1. Catherine! I can’t even tell you how much I would have loved to have this when I was job searching after college. I love how thorough and thoughtful your advice is here. One other thing I found helpful was to bookmark the Careers page of any organizations I was really interested in, and I’d spend about 30 minutes every few days re-checking those pages for new jobs. (I got a great entry level job out of college, too, and that little habit did the trick! Saw my job the day it was posted and applied right away.) Really great post!

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle! It’s probably the longest it’s ever taken me to write a post, but I wanted it to be as useful as possible! Love your tip as well xx

    1. Thank you, Tegan! I remember overanalyzing whether my outfits would be appropriate or not but I suppose you don’t really need to worry unless you’re interviewing for a style or retail company haha

  2. Congratulations with finding a job! Many of my friends got summer jobs. I considered getting one as well, but I didn’t have a resume ready, and at the time I also had to worry about finals and summer storage and visa stuff for summer traveling, so I decided to hold off. Now that I have time, I’m planning to put together a resume, but it’s a very overwhelming task, at least for a noob like me :P Thanks for providing this guide and making the task a little less daunting :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    1. Haha putting together a resume is definitely overwhelming for anyone! You either have to try to fit a ton of stuff in or you have no idea what to include. Best of luck, I know you can do it!

  3. This is the most helpful post on this topic I’ve found. It’s in depth, up to date, and useful! I’m an upcoming senior in college, so this will be put to good use after next semester. I’m bookmarking this for later and want to say thank you for all the good tips and pointers- there are a few I’ve never heard before!

    http://www.annadownsouth.com

  4. This was such a great post. Though I’m already passed this stage I really wish I could’ve read something like this after I graduated College. I was extremely overwhelmed at the time and had no idea how to apply for a job I wanted. I think this article is so helpful for anyone entering the work-field.

  5. I just graduated 19 days ago so I am beginning this process! I was actually offered a job in Dallas prior to graduating, but I turned it down because the salary unfortunately was not enough. However this was just one job out of 11 that I began applying for 4 months before actually graduating! Talk about a little demotivation. Your article was phenomenal and a great motivator, so thank you!! Definitely bookmarked it for future reference.

    I do however have one editorial tip for you: My professors strongly encouraged their seniors to write and send thank you notes after receiving an interview. In your article you mentioned that this was a little old fashioned, and I totally agreed with you before writing and sending a thank you note myself! It helped me land the job! But more on that later :)

    The “old fashioned” thank you note is the greatest appeal! I remember being young and hating writing notes to my grandparents, or even being a bratty pre-teen and rolling my eyes when I received a birthday card from a relative. But now, I get so excited when I get a card in the mail! In this day and age, texts, emails, and everything electronic is all the rage. It’s exhausting to me, and to employers sometimes. The CFO from a successful company once visited one of my senior marketing classes as our guest speaker. He said that in the hour he took to talk to us, he obtained over 100 emails. He shared that when his company was performing interviews, many potential candidates sent thank you emails as their follow-up. One candidate however took the time to buy a thank you card, write a sincere and gracious message, and send it to the hiring manager personally. That candidate got the job. He wasn’t even the most qualified, the CFO admitted. But he sure as heck stood out!

    And it worked for me! I sent a thank you card immediately after my interview ended with the hiring manager of the company I was applying for a position with. She was so flattered that she connected me right away to the person who would be my boss and I was offered the job that day!

    Sometimes, old fashioned can be best fashioned! Just a little food for thought ;)

  6. Thank you so much for posting this! I just graduated in December and have been sending out resume’s ever since. It definitely hasn’t been easy and it can get extremely discouraging. I’ve sent out 25 resume’s at mostly non-profits and i’ve only had 1 interview so far. I know it’s just a matter of not giving up but it can be difficult. Thank you for posting this, it’s definitely encouraging to know that i’m not the only one who has gone through this!

  7. This is going to be so helpful for me. My first job after college was teaching abroad. I’m finishing up the two year contract this summer and moving back to California. While teaching has been my first real job I didn’t have to go through the job finding process to get the position. I’m so nervous about finding a new job, thank you so much for the reassurance that things will work out and thanks for all the advice! I’m going to be putting together my resume soon and I loved your idea of making a fill in the blank template! Also thanks for the job site recommendations it will be a good place to start!

  8. Recently just graduated and this is so helpful! Also dying laughing at the names you used as contacts in the spreadsheet!

  9. This was the best/most helpful blog post I’ve ever read!! I’m a senior sociology major wanting to work with a non-profit so my jaw dropped at how spot on this was! Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into writing this, I will definitely be downloading and using every piece of it!!!

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