It’s something that every college student starts to stress out about during their educational career – when do you start to look for your first “adult” job? The job search can be incredibly time consuming and overwhelming. Many students might feel discouraged by their prospects, or maybe they’re expecting a job to fall into their lap just because they’re on their way to earning their degree. However, especially in today’s world where it’s not always what you know but who you know, job searches are much more about networking and pursuing opportunities with people you know or could potentially be introduced to. So, knowing that your job hunt might take a little longer, do you start to look for an “adult” job while you’re still in college? Or do you wait until you’ve graduated and have your degree in hand?
The Difficulties of Job Hunting
We live in a very connected world. Even if you’re able to find a job posting on a website or in the paper, it’s likely that the poster already knows several people or can be introduced to several people who are the ideal applicants. However, don’t allow yourself to be consumed by the doom and gloom rumors that all college graduates struggle to find a job. In fact, only 2.5% of college graduates are unemployed as of a January 2017 survey. That doesn’t mean the job search is easy or that there are jobs out there that are a perfect fit for everybody, but there are ways to deal with the difficulties of the job hunt.
It may be tempting to put off your job search until after you graduate. Logically, this might appear to make sense. Ideally, if you focus your time while in college on your studies, your grades will be better. Better grades mean a higher GPA, and that should mean a higher likelihood of finding an amazing job after you graduate. This logic is faulty. While GPA is a factor, most places of employment aren’t going to be scrutinizing your college transcript. Just seeing that you earned a degree is usually enough to qualify you for employment (unless, of course, you’re going into a very high tech or niche-specific field).
If we look at how job hunting works these days (78% of college graduates say that networking played the largest factor in finding a job after college), we know one thing for sure: it’s time consuming. So, the right way to go about your job search is to start as early as possible while you’re still in college. This will ultimately save you money in the long run because before any student loans or hefty post-college living expenses kick in, you’ll already be squared away with a salary-earning job. If you wait to start job searching until after college, it’s likely you’ll take a bit of time to do so. During this time, you won’t be earning money, you could potentially be going into debt to pay for your lifestyle, and you won’t be putting any money towards student debt, savings, or retirement funds.
Timing & Experience
Timing is, in this case, the most important factor in finding a job. You never know who you’ll meet at a career fair, at a panel interview, or during a networking event, and you can’t really orchestrate the meeting with your ideal employer. These chance meetings aren’t premeditated. This is the reason you should start hunting for your job early on, to increase your likelihood of being in the right place at the right time. Of course, timing these meetings or being able to bump into someone who wants to hire you in the right place at the right time isn’t easy – if only because it’s mostly outside your realm of control. Regardless of how difficult this seems, keep pressing on. Continue to apply, send emails of inquiry, and attend networking events to maximize the time you’re spending on your job hunt.
Experience is also a critical factor in your job hunt. It can be frustrating for college students when it seems like all entry-level jobs have a high experience requirement. One way to circumvent this is by attending events within the industry you’re interested in.
Get involved early – a year or more before your expected graduation date with volunteer work, internships, networking events, or even off-campus jobs. Although you’re a full-time student, this involvement will show very clearly that you have experience in the industry, know about the employers you’re speaking with, and you’re ready to jump into the workforce after you graduate. The job search is a stressful time, but it’s also an exciting time! Take advantage of events in your area to put yourself in front of the people you want to work for and eventually you will be working for them after you graduate!