If you graduated this spring and still don't have a job, all is not lost. However, one career expert believes that if you're still looking for work several months from now, employers could start to wonder why you haven't landed a position.
"What sends up red flags for potential employers is if you graduated in May and you're still looking for that first job in December," Kevin Nall, director of employer relations in Baylor University's Office of Career and Professional Development, said in a statement. "It's not insurmountable, but it's problematic, and it's something a recruiter will be looking at while considering you."
The key is to be proactive in your search. While it may be frustrating to send out résumés and never receive a response, there are other steps you can take to boost your chances of finding work, Nall said.
To help recent graduates bridge the gap between commencement and their first professional paycheck, Nall offered several tips:
- Start building your network. Although you might not have built a professional network yet, you do have parents, relatives and friends to turn to. People close to you often provide the building blocks for a strong network. Additionally, don't be afraid to join a professional group as a way to meet new people.
"Many professional organizations will have student membership rates, but if you're not able to pay for that, you should at least be hitting their websites and looking for job openings," Nall said.
- Use LinkedIn to your advantage. LinkedIn, the online social network for professionals, is an excellent tool for job seekers. Nall suggested immediately trying to connect with professionals who are alumni of your school.
"That helps you start with a very large network, and you have instant access to those people," Nall said.
- Use your school's career center. Part of the responsibility of a university career center is to provide guidance to recent graduates during the job-search process. This guidance includes offering assistance on crafting a résumé and cover letter, as well as conducting mock interviews and salary negotiations.
"For whatever reason, some recent graduates don't have an idea of where to go or what to do," Nall said. "That's what career centers are for."
- Take an internship. If you are struggling to find a full-time job, don't be afraid to take an internship to help fill in the time before you do land work. Nall said that taking a postgraduate internship is a sign to employers that a recent graduate is on an educational path and isn't just sitting around doing nothing.
"If you can afford it, even an unpaid internship would work," Nall said. "The caveat is that it [should pertain] to the area you'd like to go into professionally."
- Attend career fairs. Recent graduates who are still looking for a job by the end of August should be prepared to start attending career fairs in the fall. Most important, you should attend the fall career fair at your alma mater. Nall said doing so can lead to job opportunities, as businesses that attend career fairs are typically in the market for new hires.
- Be willing to move. You can open up a wealth of new opportunities by being willing to relocate to another state or region. "If you're a 22-year-old graduate with no commitment to a geographic region, I'd expand that search," Nall said. "That also shows a willingness to be flexible."