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3 Things New Grads Fear About Finding Jobs -- and What to Do About Them

By Maurie Backman – May 17, 2018 at 6:04AM

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Gearing up for your first job search? Here's how to conquer your anxieties and retain your sanity throughout.

Congratulations, Class of 2018! After years of hard work, you're finally walking away from college with those coveted diplomas in hand. And while you're no doubt basking in the glory of what you've accomplished, you're probably feeling somewhat anxious about entering the next phase of life: the working world. This especially holds true if you're among the many graduates without a job lined up.

There are certain concerns that tend to come into play when you're looking for work for the first time, but knowing how to alleviate them can make for a much less stressful job hunt. With that in mind, here are a few things new graduates are apt to worry about -- and how to address them.

Graduation cap and rolled up piece of paper in red ribbon


1. Not having a strong enough resume

It's hard to feel confident about your resume when your only experience to date is serving up slop at your former dining hall or restocking books at the campus store. But one thing you need to remember about an entry-level resume is that it's not supposed to feature an extensive work history -- because you don't have one. So, rather than stress over your limited expertise, play up the skills you have acquired. If your attention to detail got you promoted at the retail gig you worked while in school, say so. Similarly, if you scored a coveted teaching assistant position during your studies, highlight that, too.

Of course, there are a number of ground rules to follow if you want to present a solid resume -- namely, you'll want to steer clear of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, avoid too many personal details, and load up on action verbs wherever possible. But don't sweat your limited experience, because that's what employers expect.

2. Blowing it during an interview

It's natural to get nervous during job interviews, especially if you're new to the process. But going in prepared can help ensure that you don't end up blowing those key opportunities when they do come your way.

First, read up on each company you're meeting with so that you go in knowing at least a little bit about the business. Next, study your resume so that you're prepared to discuss your experience and skills. Additionally, enlist the help of a neighbor, family member, or friend, and go through a trial run to get a sense of what an interview might feel like. Answering out loud in the presence of someone else might help you grow more comfortable.

Finally, familiarize yourself with some of the most common job interview questions out there, and prepare your responses in advance. This way, you're less likely to fumble on the spot and blow your chances of landing a job offer.

3. Not knowing what jobs to apply for

Maybe you've perfected your resume and honed your interview skills. There's still an additional challenge you might face in your job hunt: not knowing what sort of position to apply for. In fact, in a survey, almost 32% of recent grads said that their biggest job search-related worry is not knowing what jobs they actually want.

If you're having difficulty pinpointing what it is you want to do, think back to when you were in college and figure out what type of classes appealed to you the most. Did you enjoy being creative, or were you more comfortable working with numbers and data? Similarly, think about the low-level jobs you held during college. Were you happy being in a customer service role, or was your preference to work behind the scenes? These questions might help you identify your work personality, and from there, you can seek out roles that align with it.

Another option is to talk to the people you know who are already working and aim to learn more about what they do. You might think a financial position will bore you to tears, but if your friend's older brother who works in banking enjoys the fast-paced, challenging environment, it might change your mind.

Finally, don't discount the option of talking to a career counselor. The challenge, of course, is paying for one when you're unemployed and quite potentially broke. But if you find someone whose rates are reasonable, a career counselor might help you narrow down your choices, thus making for a far more efficient job search.

Finding work for the first time can be daunting, so give yourself a break. Many seniors graduate college and expect to be employed within a matter of weeks, but often, that's just not realistic. Be patient with your job search and take the time to perfect your resume, improve your interview skills, and figure out what it is you want to do, at least initially. And remember, your first job out of school doesn't necessarily have to be your dream job. If you're lucky, though, it will be a solid stepping stone as well as a means of paying the bills. And frankly, that's not a bad combination to aim for.

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