How to Land Your Dream Job After Graduation

By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University

You’ve passed the tests, made the grade and even got a shiny new diploma to show for it. But what about that validating job?

Perhaps the biggest shock of post-grad life is the question of “what’s next?”

Upon leaving the quad and heading back to home, it wasn’t so much the fear of the unknown but the fear of explaining what the next four years would look like. Fully equipped with five internships — but no job — only fed the curiosity of the neighbors.

Here are a few tips to keep the inquisitive at bay and your fellow classmates envious of that amazing job you landed.

1. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Settling for an administrative position with a law firm, PR agency or even your respective university or college is a perfectly suitable option out the gate. But the ambitious never say no to their dreams. You did four years of undergrad work for a reason, so why not reach for the stars?

When applying for jobs (or even internships), do not sell yourself short. As a living testament to reaching beyond your potential, always apply for the jobs you want, not the jobs whose requirements you fulfill.

2. Turn Your Age or Lack of Experience Into a Positive

Being the youngest in your field means you are still able to learn and adapt. Sell yourself as an asset rather than a burden by highlighting your internships or college experiences. Many of your future co-workers probably never had the chance to hold an internship during their college years. Prove to your interviewer that your experiences make you unique — not inadequate.

3. Assume the Role of a Storyteller

The best advice I received during my intern years was “no matter what, tell a good story.” From videos I produced to writing cover letters, I always tried to incorporate a story into my work. The same can go for your resume and how you present your past experiences.

Lay out your employment experiences as if drafting a story arch, providing a one-sentence theme as your mission statement. This allows your future employer to see right off the bat what motivates you. Whether it’s your cover letter or an in-person interview, make sure you are able to communicate what makes you unique and how this will be an asset to the office.

4. Apply, Rinse and Repeat

Fresh out of college? Spending the summer applying for internships and jobs from dusk till dawn shows dedication. But it can also wreak havoc on your self-esteem and confidence.

Instead, set a goal to apply for 10 jobs a month — five of which you could call your dream job. Just like applying to college, apply to back-ups or “safety” positions. Try narrowing your search to opportunities that seem interesting and which, over time, could evolve into your dream job. Don’t let the application process become a chore. Dedicate an hour a day to conducting research, editing your resume or maintaining your social networks. Quality — not quantity — is key.

5. Network, Network, Network

No matter who you are connected to, utilize these ties. Rather than being awkward or embarrassing, view it as an opportunity to build an even deeper relationship with someone who may turn to you at some point in the future for the same assistance. Cherish these opportunities to create good karma.

So, where to start?

Go to people who know you — and your talents – best. Connect with a past professor that struck a chord with you. As many professors were professionals at one point in their field, they are an incredible resource who can potentially help identify people (and potential employers!) you need to meet.

As much as you hate to admit, your parents help in more ways than you think! Indeed, Mom and Dad (and their friends) are a viable options for great contacts. Be open with your parents and relatives while on the job hunt. They just might know the right person who can help open the door for you.

6. Never Doubt the Power of Social Media

While it might appear to be an obvious resource to many current undergrads, a strong social media presence can pay off in the job hunt.

Today, more than ever before, companies are looking at an applicant’s online presence when making hiring decisions. According to a recent CareerBuilder study, two in five companies use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and other platforms to check out potential candidates. So make sure to take time transitioning your online profile toward a more professional-looking one.

Also, try tracking down those companies where you dream of working and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Following HR departments of my dream companies on Twitter allowed me to see up-to-date positions as well as interact with the company. I was able to ask questions specific to my application in a way that was comfortable without being too pushy. You would be surprised at how willing HR managers are to help you out in 140 characters or less!

And if you don’t already have one, sign up for a LinkedIn account to directly connect with any alums in your career field or use it to find job postings.

When used the right way, social media can help land the job of your dreams.

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Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!