New college grads have ‘amazing’ job opportunities, career expert says. Here’s how to land the right one

Personal finance

Jamie Linton landed a job in marketing before she graduated from University of Tampa in May.
Jamie Linton

Jamie Linton just graduated into a job market that hasn’t been seen in generations.

Despite rumblings about a possible recession down the road, job openings are still near all-time highs. Millions of workers have walked away from their employers in what’s being called the Great Resignation.

Still, Linton jumped into her job search with gusto. She began searching before she entered her senior year last fall, researching potential employers, finding recruiters and networking on LinkedIn.

She got her degree last month and is about to start working at Hubspot, taking part in the tech company’s marketing associate program. It has everything she was looking for — from competitive pay to a forward-looking company culture.

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“Being a Black woman, I wanted to be at a company where I felt really supported,” said Linton, who is 20 and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

New college graduates know what they want in an employer and are going after those jobs. Good pay, the opportunity to learn new things, job security and low stress top the list of what they are looking for, according to a survey by career website ZipRecruiter.

To be sure, employers are offering more perks and benefits, like signing bonuses, remote work and mental health and wellness benefits, the report found. They have also lowered the experience requirement for many roles, according to the report.

“That creates amazing opportunities for new grads,” said Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter’s chief economist.

“If you graduate into a market like this, the effects can be permanent,” she added. “You’re given access to kinds of roles that you may never otherwise have gotten into and getting employer investments in your training that otherwise wouldn’t have been provided.”

Still, landing the right job matters. Here’s what experts say to do.

Make yourself findable

Job sites are a great way to search for open roles, but recruiters also use them to find candidates.

“You want to make yourself findable, which means writing a great resume that follows all the best practices of resume writing that very clearly lists your skills and experience,” Pollak said.

On ZipRecruiter, for instance, you can create a job-searcher profile and upload your resume.

Also it’s important to have a robust LinkedIn profile that highlights your experience, skills and education.

Network

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Start connecting with people on LinkedIn and have conversations, as Linton did. She also reached out directly to recruiters she found on the site.

In addition, think about the people you interact with in your life. That can mean family, friends, professors and even your campus career officer. Then you can make contact with people they know in your favored industry.

Alumni can also be a great resource. Research which graduates from your own alma mater already work at organizations you are interested in, said Vicki Salemi, a career coach at Monster, the job site.

“Be specific about what you’re looking to get out of the conversation, like ‘What is it like to work at the company? Can they forward your resume?'” she said.

Also, don’t make it a one-and-done situation.

“It’s about building valuable connections and having meaningful conversations,” Salemi said. “You are building a relationship that will be ongoing.”

Do your homework

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Research the company and industry you are interested in, said Pollak. If you see a certain course or license mentioned in several job postings, try to find a way to acquire that skill.

“Employers love to see that you are a self starter, that you’re motivated, that you can find information and learn it on your own,” Pollak said.

Figure out what the pay is for that particular role by checking out websites like Glassdoor or Payscale. Do this in concert with learning about best practices for the roles you are targeting and start reading industry publications for the latest news, she added.

Also come prepared to the interview with questions. You can get specific, like asking about certain benefits. If you are evaluating more than one employer, consider making a spreadsheet to keep track of the different benefit packages, Monster’s Salemi suggests.

Look for the right fit

Competitive pay is great, but what else are you looking for? Whether it is time off, health insurance or other perks, be very specific and set a high bar, said Salemi.

“It is important for job seekers to evaluate the employer the same way the employer is evaluating them,” she said.

Negotiate

Typically, those fresh out of school have less negotiating power because entry level jobs are typically set, Salemi said. However, you should still negotiate your own terms.

Salary should be the first piece, but if the results aren’t exactly what you were looking for, ask for other things like remote work or more days off, she said.

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