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10 Things Students Must Do to Get Their First Job After University

Graduating from a college or university is a great accomplishment. But simply earning a degree doesn’t guarantee job search success, or separate you from the crowded field of thousands of other recent university graduates now looking for a job. Finding that first job after university takes time, effort and commitment. So don’t go into the job search without a plan.

In order to help you take your job search to the next level, and land that first job after University, I suggest you to follow the following 10 steps:

1. Update your résumé

A good résumé will help you land an interview. A good résumé will give you confidence when sharing with others you meet or who request it. Take the time to create a solid résumé before starting the job search. Work with your University career center (even after graduation) for résumé assistance. Or, consider hiring a professional résumé writer, if needed. Once you have your master copy, know that you will need to tweak your résumé for every job that you apply for

2. Interview preparation

A degree and great résumé can help you land an interview, but it doesn’t help you master the interview. That’s why you should be sure to proactive interviewing. This is easier than ever before. How so? Set up a real-life interview situation with a friend or university career center representative. Record it. Review your answers, voice, tone and body language. It’s awkward and uncomfortable – but so is showing up for that interview unprepared. University doesn’t prepare you for an interview, but practicing for an interview does.

If you want to take it a step further, you can hire a career coach to help you master the interview process and conduct mock interviews with you.

3. Connect with a recruiter

First, know this: Recruiters don’t work for job seekers. Their job is not to find you a job. Their job is to find their clients – employers – candidates who would fit their job openings. But find a recruiter in your field (search industry experts on LinkedIn, or for recruiting firms in your area) and try and connect and/or register with their organization. Read this article for more tips on how to connect with a recruiter.

4. Register with a staffing firm

Staffing firms offer four great opportunities:

  1. Some companies only use staffing firms to hire. Therefore, there may be unadvertised jobs (hidden job market) that people only find out about because they are registered with a staffing firm.
  2. Many companies prefer to hire on temporary or contract basis because of project need (there may not be enough work to hire someone full-time, but they need help for three months, six months, or longer).
  3. Some staffing firms offer temp-to-hire jobs. Try before you buy. Employers get to see how you work up close and personal and if it’s a fit, they may hire you permanent, full-time.
  4. A contract or temporary job is a great way to add experience and professional connections to help you land the next job. Start with a staffing firm to lead into the next job.

5. Network, network, network

It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know. Attend networking events, industry events, or join a young professional association. Be active, meet people, connect, be social, and add professional contacts. And that doesn’t just mean on LinkedIn. Get out and about.

6. Find a mentor

A mentor can provide career advice, job search tips, and resources. A mentor may not help you get hired, but they are someone who can help you through the struggles, and successes of being a young professional searching for that first job.

7. Reference check

When the time is right, employers will want a list of references. But don’t just create a list of references and expect those people to know what to say about you. Contact them, ask them to be references for you, and educate them on your job search goals, and how they can best sell you to an employer. Be careful though, many employers may not contact the references you give them – backdoor reference checks are now common, so take steps to manage your online and/or professional reputation.

8. Check your online reputation

So what would an employer find out about you if they searched for you online? What is your personal brand? This is what employers who don’t know you see online when researching you. Secure your social media accounts, remove anything sketchy, and present yourself as a polished and prepared professional. Learn how to have a sterling online reputation.

9. Take some chances

Apply for that job you think you are underqualified for. Call that professional you admire from afar and ask for an informational interview. Register with that dream employer and get into their applicant database. Look beyond what your degree “says” you should do. Consider how you can relocate on a tight budget if there are better opportunities. Be different than the rest.

10. Sign up for job alerts

Doing all of the above is hard work, and takes time. So why not have jobs sent directly to you? Sign up for job alerts on job search sites. Some of them, such as College Recruiter are dedicated for for one-, two-, and four-year college and university students searching for internships and recent graduates hunting for entry-level jobs and other career opportunities.

Job search is hard, but with preparation and planning, a recent university graduate can suddenly become a recently hired graduate. Follow these 10 steps and increase your chance to get your first job after university.

Author: Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for