Career Advice for the College Senior or Recent Graduate

Do you have a son or daughter graduating from college this year?  Are you wringing your hands about the job market and concerned about the “Don’t worry about it, I’ll find a job” attitude expressed by your soon-to-be graduate?

I know from experience that kids eventually come around to accepting, even asking for parents’ opinions, but it’s typically not until they have crossed the threshold and moved well into their 20’s. Until then, you may need to find stealth-like ways to pass on your sage advice.

What was true years ago still holds true today--many students put off thinking about the inevitable and avoid the job search that will test their ability to make it in the real world. It may be a combination of fear of the unknown to reluctance to leave friends and familiar surroundings that keeps these young adults in denial and disinterested in the array of resources available to them. (I know this from my years in career services in higher education before starting my own career counseling business.)

Without any direct experience of their own, students often dismiss career counseling, on campus recruiting, resume and interviewing workshops and tapping the alumni network as “not very useful” or “geared only to business majors”. Some make up any justification that will allow them to keep post graduation plans at bay for as long as possible.

Ignoring valuable resources is a real loss to current students.  Even though some colleges and universities offer services to alumni/ae, these services often come with a fee and they are rarely as comprehensive as those offered to matriculated students.

To serve the recent graduate, we’ve added an associate at Heart At Work. Amy Jaffe is an skilled career counselor with experience in career offices at colleges such as Bates. Perhaps because Amy’s not their parent, these students and recent grads seem to be open to what she has to say.  You can see her bio on our website:

Here are important tips for the college senior or recent college grad:

  1. Visit the career services office at your college and set up an appointment with one of the career counselors.
  2. If you have not identified a job or field to pursue after graduation, ask how they can help you achieve that goal.
  3. Ask how you can conduct an alumni/ae search for a list of names of people who are working in the city and or job in which you are interested.
  4. Develop a resume and create a great Linkedin profile.
  5. Set up informational interviews. Meet with people in entry-level positions so you can determine if the job is a good fit for you. After you have a sense of the job and what is required, you might then contact alums in mid to senior level positions to ask their advice on securing a job in their field. Ask for feedback on your resume.
  6. When you learn of an actual job, request a job description. Make sure your resume incorporates key words and covers the most important requirements from the description.
  7. Keep a written record of your process (Excel is great for that) and make sure you send appropriate follow up correspondence or emails.
  8. Be prepared when the offer finally comes. Do the research that will tell you the salary ranges in the job and marketplace in which you are looking. Learn how to negotiate for a better offer, if appropriate.
  9. Celebrate your fist job!