Finding a job after college

Graduating college and entering the adult world is a major step in life. You're starting a new chapter of adulthood on your own, and you'll find that your responsibilities and priorities undergo big shifts as you begin to navigate this new world. One of your primary objectives will be finding — and getting — a job.

The good news is that the job market has improved for new college grads. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers expect to hire 5% more students from the class of 2017 than they did from 2016's graduates.

Still, it takes time and a well-organized plan to find a good job. Here's what you should know.

1. Life after college: networking

Networking is more important than ever for new grads entering a tight job market. The cornerstone of any job search strategy is thoroughness. Explore all opportunities that seem reasonable. This includes reaching out to anyone who might be able to point you in the right direction. Don't hesitate to speak with friends, extended family, former classmates and even casual acquaintances you meet. You never know who might be the source of a good job lead.

Also, consult your college career office and contact instructors who might have connections in your field or suggestions to offer. For instance, a favorite accounting professor could have close contacts at a local firm. Another great resource is to tap into your college's alumni network. A successful alum who has navigated the career path you're following can offer valuable insights or even connect you with a hiring manager.

Once you have a lead, follow up by email with the person who has been recommended. If there's a specific opening, state your interest in the position concisely and politely. Ask about potential next steps, and don't hesitate to mention the person who made you aware of the opportunity.

Inquire about the hiring process and how to approach a manager regarding positions at his or her company. If you're applying for a job there, ask if they'd be willing to give you a recommendation or let you mention their name in a cover letter.

2. Getting a job after college: create a resume

As a recent graduate, your resume is probably light on experience. Hiring managers expect as much, but you may have done more than you think. To truly show your experiences be sure to include internships and any work experience. Also, be sure to add volunteer work and special projects you've done - anything that shows desirable work attributes such as leadership, teamwork, initiative, problem-solving or communication skills.

A resume should be a single page. Make the wording direct and punchy, and begin phrases and sentences with action words. Design is important and should be appropriate to your field. That includes not only spacing, but the type of font you use. If you're seeking a financial services position, you may want to opt for Times, Times New Roman, Helvetica or Cambria font. They're clear but not fussy and can help stamp you as a serious candidate. For a fashion or design position, the more elegant Didot might work better.

3. Post-college presence: your digital life

For career-related activities, the most important social media platform is LinkedIn. It's the go-to site for most corporate recruiters in their search for prospects and for jobseekers looking to build their networks and find job openings.

Take the time to create an attractive LinkedIn profile, listing relevant employment, awards and accomplishments. Like your resume, you can continually update it as you progress in your career. Use LinkedIn's many helpful features. These include requesting skill endorsements and asking former colleagues, professors or managers to write a recommendation on your page.

Another online strategy for promoting yourself is to start a blog, either using a do-it-yourself template that you post to the Internet or using LinkedIn for sharing your views on an industry or otherwise. 

Even a hobby you're passionate about can show off your writing ability and curiosity. It can also provide a hiring manager with some intriguing insight about you.

One more word of advice: before you start your job search, double-check your social media profiles. Hiring managers are increasingly checking them to ensure the material is appropriate and consistent with the type of individual that they want to recruit. 

4. Want a job? Find a mentor

Maybe there's an older family friend with experience in your field who can advise you. If not, find a mentor. Mentors offer valuable insights gained through experience and insider tips on navigating the working world. A mentor can be a former teacher or someone whom you meet at a networking event. Look for someone with whom you can communicate easily and who understands the issues you face.

Set reasonable expectations. You're likely going to start with an entry-level job, but this type of position can be a springboard to bigger events in your career.

If you're looking for further resources as you start your post-college life, Nationwide offers many resources for young professionals. Get set up with renters insurance to ensure your new home is secure after you move out of the dorms.

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