For a long time, I believed that finding a job after college only had to do with having the right skills to get the job done. And then I thought it had to do with buying into the company’s mission in addition to being able to do the job well. Although both of these do play a part in finding a job after college, I was still missing one key aspect…
Okay. I know that might’ve sounded narcissistic. But just stick with me.
I spent a lot of my senior year of college applying to jobs. During that time, it was easy to find reasons to be okay with not getting job offers because I was in school. But then when graduation came and I still had no job offers, I got desperate. And I completely lost myself in the job-hunting process. I became whoever I thought companies wanted me to be (and spoiler alert…this method bit me in the ass later).
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So, you want to know how to find a job after college? It’s simple…
Get to know yourself.
When you’re just out of college and don’t have very much work experience, what is going to separate you from all of the other applicants with the same amount of similar intern experience and good grades? YOU. You are what makes you different. So get to know yourself to discover what sets you apart from other candidates.
- Understand what it is that motivates you. Then find a company and/or job that needs someone who is motivated by that thing to do a good job
- Is it money? (Let me be clear…it’s okay if you are driven by money.)
- Do you want to live a certain lifestyle?
- Are you passionate about making an impact?
- Are you motivated by your family?
- Define how you want to be treated. Then find a company that prioritizes treating people that way.
- We all want to be treated well. But what does being treated well look like to you?
- Discover what makes you happy. Then find a company/job that is connected to that thing.
- Is there a job that allows you to do that thing?
- Is there a company that supports that thing?
- Or is there a way you can use that thing to decompress after a long day?
Why is self-discovery important for finding a job after college?
You can do everything you can to learn about things like how to:
- Create the best resume
- Write the best cover letter
- Network your way into a job
- Ace an interview
But these are all just tactics…Very helpful tactics. But you can know all there is to know about those tactics and still have a hard time finding a job. I know because I (like many of my peers) dedicated every waking hour of senior year (not spent in class or doing homework) to learn about these tactics and I still wasn’t able to align a job right after college.
You need a strategy. And getting to know yourself is how you will be able to develop that strategy. To start, get a free copy of the productive job-hunting cheat sheet here.
What does self-knowledge look like in the job-hunting process?
When you know yourself, it’s easier to:
- Ask specific questions during the interview process
- Being able to ask good questions shows interviewers your critical thinking skills and gives you a better chance of understanding what it would be like to work at that company.
- Stay true to yourself during the interview process
- You want to be hired for the person you are (kind of like dating— you want to be loved for the person you are) because it gets tiring pretending to be someone you aren’t.
- Answer hard questions like “why do you want THIS job at THIS company?”
- Do you know how hard it is to give an honest answer to this question when all you want is any marketing job at any company? But getting to know yourself will help you find jobs and companies that you are genuinely interested which will make answering tough questions like this so much easier.
- Find a job and company that is a good fit for you
- When you know who you are, it’s easy to define what it is you are looking for. And when you know what you are looking for, searching for jobs on job listing sites gets so much easier because you know what you are looking for.
So what now?
Now, while you have the time, is when you should start doing exercises to get to know yourself. Let me clarify what I mean by “time.”
- Download the productive job-hunting cheat sheet to be sure you keep your job-search efficient
- Recent grads still looking for a job: You may not feel like you have the same duration of time as college seniors because you’ve already graduated. But you may have more free time on your hands (now that you don’t have classes or homework) to prioritize self-discovery.
- College Juniors and Seniors: I know that you’re busy! So I don’t mean to indicate that you have free time. I mean you have a longer duration of time (from now until you graduate from college) to prioritize self-discovery.