How to Find Your First Job Out of College

Recruiter and influencer Gabrielle Woody answers your most pressing questions about the job hunt.

How to Find Your First Job Out of College

Getting your first job out of college is a milestone achievement.

Congrats! You've graduated and are now ready to find your first job out of college. Yet, you have so many questions. You're probably wondering what your options are, how to start your first job search, how to negotiate salary, and even how long you should think about staying in your first job.

To help cut to the chase, Monster teamed up with professional university recruiter and social influencer Gabrielle Woody to answer your most pressing questions about finding your first entry-level job.

Woody's a specialist in helping new grads get a foot in the door and has expertise in diversity hiring. Here are her expert tips on four common questions new grads ask about getting a first job after college.

Does My First Job Out of College Have to Match My Major?

The short answer is no, you do not have to find a job that matches your major. In today's job market, a college degree may be a qualification for many jobs, but a specific major is not frequently required for most roles.

Employers are more interested in seeing transferable skills on your resume that relate to the job to which you're applying. These skills can be obtained from a variety of past experiences such as:

  • internships
  • part-time work
  • student organizations
  • class projects
  • volunteer work

If you have specific skills or certifications, you should feature them on your resume.

Job opportunities that require a degree in a specific major will state so in the qualifications section of the job listing. This happens more frequently in specialized fields such as health care, where a medical doctor or nurse requires a medical degree or license.

How Long Should I Plan to Stay at an Entry-Level Job?

Entry-level jobs right after college are great ways to gain the skills and training that you didn't get in school. There's often a longer training period for entry-level hires, so you should plan to stay for at least two years and leave no earlier than one year.

Employers are mindful of the time and resources that are necessary for training and onboarding a successful new hire, and your next employer will invest resources to train and develop the skills necessary for you to grow professionally and make an impact. You should consider that investment when you're thinking of jumping ship.

As well, another company may be hesitant to interview a candidate for a job opening if the candidate hasn't been in their current role for one to two years. Although job-hopping isn't as big of a red flag as it used to be, an employer might assume that a job-hopping candidate will leave for the next hot offer even before they've been fully trained. A candidate who shows commitment has a higher chance of getting selected for an interview.

Additionally, entry-level jobs aren't just about gaining new skills. You'll also make some important connections and develop your professional network at your job. Hopping too quickly can jeopardize those relationships and prevent you from making a lasting impression on people who could potentially help you later in your career. Take the time to nurture these relationships and learn from the people you work with. It will be beneficial to a future job search.

How Do I Show My Experience If I Haven't Had a Similar Job?

It's okay if you haven't had a similar job to the one you're applying for! It's your first job out of college and you're early in your career—employers understand that. An employer is trying to understand what experiences you've had that match the skills and competencies needed for you to be successful in the role. Consider highlighting your academic achievements such as relevant coursework, class projects, and student organization involvement. You may also consider creating your own side project, freelancing, contracting, or doing volunteer work to build the skills you may be lacking in the role you seek to have.

How Can I Narrow Down the Best Jobs to Apply To?

The last thing you're looking for right now is more homework, but finding a job takes some work. The first two steps to finding your first job out of college are

  1. Completing a personal evaluation
  2. Conducting company research

Before you start clicking that apply button you should do of yourself. This evaluation should include your strengths, areas of development, what you enjoy working on, and what you dislike working on. Once you have identified these areas then you should search for the job titles and descriptions that align with your strengths and passions.

After you've identified the types of jobs that best fit, then you should narrow down on the type of companies that have those specific openings. Research the company's values, mission, industry, size, compensation, and benefits to ensure they are aligned with your professional needs. It also helps to ask for informational chats with employees at the companies you are researching to receive an insider perspective.

Find Your First Job Out of College Right Here

We know you have lots of questions about how to get a job as a new graduate. Luckily, Monster is prepared with plenty of answers. Need more tips? Take the first step by setting up a free profile on Monster. You'll have access to job search tools and career resources to take some of the pressure off your shoulders.