Job Doc

I just recently graduated and now, I’m looking to get right into the workforce. My concern is that I don’t have much professional experience. How can I successfully secure a job as a new graduate? Elaine Varelas advises

Graduation is a huge milestone and becoming part of the professional workforce can be exciting. Elaine Varelas advises on how to best apply as a new graduate while showcasing your skills and abilities.

Ask the Job Doc.

Q: I recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree and I’m trying to jump into the workforce. Because I don’t have much professional experience, how can I make myself a visible candidate to a potential office job?

A: Congratulations on receiving your bachelor’s degree! It’s always exciting to enter the workforce with a new diploma, and while it can be challenging, new talent is something all organizations are looking for in this marketplace. Hopefully, you have utilized your college or university’s career services offices as these professionals are trained to help graduates and alumni pursue their careers. In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about career decision making, they have relationships with company leaders and can provide introductions to hiring managers and human resources. If you haven’t used these resources, I encourage you to meet with these talented professionals (yes, I am biased. I used to serve in this role). Career service offices can give you the tools to succeed in your job search, including an expertly formulated resume to use in networking meetings and to clear applicant tracking systems (ATS). These professionals can also support you in the development of your LinkedIn profile, interviewing skills, and negotiation strategy.


Most new graduates don’t have a lot of work experience, but don’t overlook your part-time, summer, and educational experiences. These could include internships, student leadership positions, volunteer work, and travel in some cases. You should describe your experiences on your resume with a focus on accomplishments and contribution, not just responsibility. Did you scoop ice cream into cones? I bet you “provided high-quality customer service in a fast-paced, family-friendly restaurant.” Consider your resume as a passport. You need it to talk to people at companies and to network, but it’s not the ticket to get in. That’s the interview. You might believe resumes get you the job, but regardless of how much experience any candidate has, most people (about 70% – 80%) get their jobs through networking. You may think that looking at job boards (and I encourage you to do so) is the only way to find a job, but just a small percentage of professionals get a job this way. As a recent graduate, you have a network even if you don’t think you do – your friends that are employed (and people in their network), former faculty, and your family members, their friends, and their employers. It is critical to reach out to these individuals to develop a network of contacts that may be able to introduce you to a hiring manager or an HR representative who will ultimately get you closer to the job you want and the skillset the company needs.


To be proactive, develop a list of organizations you want to learn more about and who you might want to work for. Right now, organizations are looking for professionals with hard skills (computer science, finance, marketing, writing) and power skills (previously referred to as soft skills), such as communication and your ability to deal with people (customers or prospects). All of these capabilities are what employers are currently hiring for, so make sure to highlight those skills on your resume. As a new graduate, don’t be discouraged if you’re lacking in some skills – this is normal. However, now is the time to create an ongoing commitment to your professional development. That could mean taking an online course in writing or spending some time perfecting your ability to communicate effectively with others.

New graduates have a huge library of job search and job performance materials to refer to, and two books come to mind when it comes to employment after graduation. One being Don’t Wear Flip-Flops to Your Interview by Dr. Paul Powers (Don’t Wear Flip-Flops to Your Interview by Dr. Paul Powers | Audiobook | This book delivers a strategic look at the job-search process with practicality and humor. Don’t Wear Flip-Flops to Your Interview, “…takes you through every crucial step in your job search, from getting interviews and answering those really tricky questions to negotiating the best deal possible.” Another excellent read is Gorick Ng’s The Unspoken Rules (The Unspoken Rules). Gorick Ng is a Harvard career advisor, and his book is dedicated to, “helping first-generation professionals accelerate their careers.” These two resources will serve you well and their advice has proven to lead to success.


In the end, becoming an expert at networking and utilizing all the job search tools available to you will help you land the opportunity you want. Having a basic core-level knowledge of technology, showcasing yourself and your skills, and finetuning your professional presence are all key steps in securing a job. While your classwork may be done, your homework may not be. Now is the time to really develop yourself and your network.


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