What to do if you can’t find a job after graduation

By Gabrielle Sales

Graduation seems like the time to finally celebrate all your hard work and no longer having to attend classes at a certain time or do assignments and projects for. It’s certain it could lessen the load from your daily schedule and give you more time. But, sometimes, reality can strike you. All throughout college, we were taught to land a job in our chosen career fields and that’s why they emphasized networking is important or joining a club, seeking advice from your counselors, getting good grades, and being on top of it all.

But, what happens if we can’t find a job in our fields before or right after graduating? Does this mean we screwed ourselves up? …Of course not! Sometimes, we don’t know what happens to us after college. ​A report by The Burning Glass and the Strada Institute​found that 43% of recent college grads are underemployed for their first job out of college. Being underemployed means not working for a job with their set of skills and abilities that they most likely also acquired through studying in college. Some of these jobs people take on are also doing jobs that just do not require a college degree.

I don’t want to disappoint anyone of what to expect after graduating, but I’m sure we will meet people, whether they’re acquaintances, family members, friends, or colleagues, who had a difficult time landing a job from their field right after graduating. Recent grads do have it harder and many jobs do look for experiences (sometimes, ​plentyof experiences – I have 3 years of experience in my field during college but apparently, I still got caught up with so much competition).

When I graduated from college in 2018, I was already working an entry-level job in my field, but I, unfortunately, had to leave it to move. I moved back to my parents’ because something in my heart told me I should try and experience a new state and create new experiences there. I did not secure a job when I moved as I should have because I wanted to take a little bit of a break to recover from burnout (mind you, I worked non-stop all throughout attending college full-time and on top of that, I was going through an ugly, messy breakup I had to recover from). So, ​what did I do and what can you do ​if you aren’t finding luck in landing that postgrad job in your field?

Don’t give up and stay positive

Job hunting is a gruelling process and if you’re like me, who sent in hundreds of applications with sometimes asking you to do work samples with nothing to land in the end, you’re going to go through many stages of disappointment and depressive feelings may even kick in.

Rejections truly hurt, but after a while, it may not phase you as much anymore (at least that’s what happened to me).

Remember, the job market is not an easy market and there’s a lot of competition. Don’t define your skills and abilities as being “not good enough” when you find yourself rejected. What shifted my perspective when I told my best friend about jobs turning me down regardless of how impressive my experiences looked to them as they’d mention, she said that it means that the job is not good enough for you to begin with.

Many people go through many rejections before they can find themselves succeeding. Take Stephen King for example. His first book was rejected by 30 publishers! Jay-Z, a rapper who’s sold millions of records, was rejected by every single label, so he went on to launch his own records and released his own debut.

Focus on your hobbies and passions that you never had time for before

This is probably the biggest plus of being unemployed or not doing a job from your field. You can give yourself the time to focus on things that you always wanted to do but could not have given 100% of your attention in. If you liked reading as many books and topics on certain things before life got busy for you, you can get back to that and gain that knowledge! If you were an active person who was playing sports or hitting the gym but has fallen out of that, you can go out and start motivating yourself again!

If you haven’t even done things but want to try them now for the first time, this will be an exciting experience for you. I wasn’t an active person though before college, but I did become one after. I started hiking once a week (and even ultimately signed up for the ​#52HikeChallenge​, which I finished in January 2020) and I was, for once, able to work on my physical and mental health. These are SO important for you before you even get into the workforce because it will help you learn how to manage stress, how to have downtime when you have time, and it’ll improve your quality of life and wellbeing overall such as your energy levels.

Take filmmaker Richard Linklater for example. He was fired from his job at 27 years old and had to file for unemployment, but during all that time, he worked on his writing. This leads to my next point.

Create opportunities for yourself

If you truly want to do something that’s related to your skills that you’ve learned or developed through college, you always have the possibility to create opportunities for you! For me, I’m a marketer and writing is such an important skill to have in my field, so what did I do through all my job hunting process or taking my break? I wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote, and wrote. I also read in between. I decided to get back into freelancing to do something with myself and had the opportunity to work for some businesses to help with their needs.

I also worked hard full-on my outdoor/travel/wellness blog (From One Girl to One World, www.from1girlto1world.com​). I was still applying all my marketing skills onto here since running a blog is a lot of hard work and requires consistent marketing. Landing sponsorships and media placements and seeing traffic growth were accomplishments I am proud of because it meant my work was paying off. This was a time for me to understand that I can improve my skills and add experiences at the same time.

If you’re looking to do medical-related work, maybe think about volunteering at an animal shelter or at a children’s hospital. Many are always looking for people to help! Even if you do not get paid for this work, you will probably feel empowered that you’re making a difference in someone or something’s life and making it easier for some people who work there.

I took up many unpaid positions (and still do) solely because I am adding experiences that feel fulfilling and rewarding for me. This doesn’t mean it always has to be like this forever, though. You do deserve to be paid for your time and work and you always have that choice to make.

Do some networking

This is something I wish I did more of in college. I wasn’t always all that outgoing or did not want to stick out like a sore thumb whenever I attended my college clubs after school. I saw in the long-term what that can do now and I am now taking full advantage of this.

You can always go through your LinkedIn app and ask to have coffee with someone in your field and learn more about how they’ve been since working in a company that has the same responsibilities and role you’d like to do. On Instagram, there are plenty of easygoing ways to connect with someone! I’ve met a lot of awesome bloggers on there who are trying to do the same thing I am and we all learn from each other and it sometimes started with some simple engagement.

There are many conferences and meetings and fairs held and you can find some of these events simply from a Google search, newspapers, news announcements, or on Facebook Events. Many of these events will have professionals who attend and it’ll be a great opportunity to do some networking.

Don’t ever take meeting someone for granted. You never know if your friend’s uncle’s wife is maybe someone who is looking to hire someone in their company or could be your future client.

Possibly go back to school

This isn’t my favourite approach but if you feel that you absolutely need to fulfil some requirements to work a position in your field, then, by all means, go back to school! It’s of course not always an easy decision because you may have to make more payments or take out more loans and as we know, school isn’t cheap. School is also a commitment you’d have to get back into, so this is pretty much such a personal decision that depends on you as an individual and should not be taken lightly to decide on. It’s also not the only way to keep yourself busy as I have listed above other ways.

I do feel though that if it isn’t required of you and you do want to extend your education and knowledge around certain skills and subjects without being certified, the Internet is full of reliable resources too. I learned more about marketing, which is an everchanging field that evolves with technology, from YouTube tutorial videos or taking courses on Hubspot. You don’t have to take costly academic programs either if you’re looking for more certifications. Being open to a wide range of options and not limiting yourself is a good idea in this case and for the next case…

Don’t keep your job searches limited

If you believe that there aren’t many jobs to be found in your hometown, have you thought about maybe going out of state to find it? This may also be a huge decision to make as for what I experienced when I was planning to move out of state. However, you do not know what the future holds and the grass can be greener. You may actually like the city of the potential job you find and build a life around there.

Don’t keep your industries and job positions limited either. If you’re looking to work for a beauty brand but absolutely cannot find employment in one, then it’s going to continue to be hard. You should focus on just getting your foot in the door and applying for jobs that are not specific to your ideal industry and role. Who knows, if you end up liking it too and if it expands your knowledge? When I got my entry-level job during college, I did not think I was going to end up working for a finance company and I ended up liking it and learning more about the industry!

I hope that this post has inspired you, postgrad! It’s going to be tough after graduating and with all the job hunting you’ll be committing to, which will essentially feel like another job, but I think everyone has a way of figuring it out. Also, give yourself credit for getting to where you are now and remember, there’s never a wrong time.

Good luck in your search!

Update: After a year of being unemployed from a full-time job and job hunting, Gabby landed a job in her field of marketing and works with one of the biggest social media networks.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Nancy

    I’ve known friends who had a harder time finding a job right out of college. But that doesn’t mean it is the end of things! There are still lots of things people can do in the meantime. Sometimes, it is not the right season and there are opportunities to gain more experience and be more of a fitting candidate in the meantime. Thanks for sharing all of these tips!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    1. Maddie

      Definitely! Really agree with that, there may be times throughout the year where there is less competition too!

    2. Hi Nancy! Thanks for reading my article! Absolutely, just because someone can’t find a job right out of college does not mean it should make us feel like we are doomed. It may consist of heavy feelings since we all put so much effort getting through university and doing things to get to our career, but I definitely do believe timing and other factors as mentioned has a lot to do with when we start working in our fields.

  2. The Newbury Girl

    As someone graduating in May with a graduate degree, this was a very relatable post. I’m trying to stay as positive as I can and focus on apply to positions, creating opportunities for myself and online networking.

    Wishing all other upcoming grads luck as we job search! 💜

    1. Maddie

      It’s great to hear that you’re staying focussed and positive! Good luck with your search after you finish university 💛

    2. Hi! Good luck with graduating, you’re almost there! I’m glad you found it relatable and I wish you luck on your job hunt — it seems like you’re already in a good start by networking and creating those opportunities. That’s always best to make yourself marketable to employers.

  3. Olivia

    I totally agree! I have graduated this past September and still haven’t been able to find my dream graduate job. But it’s important to not give up and stay positive!

    xoxo Olivia | http://www.oliviaandbeauty.com

    1. Maddie

      I hope you find your dream job soon! Definitely! 🙂

    2. Hi Olivia! Congrats on graduating. Don’t worry if you do not find your dream job, but if you do end up getting a job that is decent and will take you to a step closer to that dream graduate job later, I would definitely still take that opportunity. Keep going! Good luck!

  4. I was very lucky when it came to finding a job after I graduated. But I know plenty of my friends struggled for a long time before they found their dream job. Even though it took a while, they all stayed positive and did everything they could. In the end, the wait was worth it and they are now in jobs that they absolutely love!

    1. Hi! That’s awesome you were lucky to find a job after graduating. Having a very positive attitude instead of a pessimistic one during a tough time can change the whole outlook during job hunting. I’m happy for your friends!

  5. Bexa

    This is such great advice, thank you for sharing! I know when I graduated, I found it hard to find a job. I did some volunteering for a few months in the field I wanted to work in, and eventually they offered me a job. I don’t think it’s easy as there is so much competition out there, but as long as you stay positive and determined you will get there eventually <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    1. Hi Bexa! Thank you so much for reading and glad you liked it. That’s great you did some volunteering before you found your job! And most definitely, staying positive and working on yourself such as volunteering or freelancing or even doing unpaid positions while you’re looking for that job in your field can give you that stepping stone. Who knows if it’ll turn into a paid job! Like what happened with you!

  6. Bobbi

    I had these fears after I graduated! After failing every interview I had, I finally got accepted for a job to teach in China for a year! I returned to London (my home) over 2 months ago after completing the best year of my life! It made me so happy to know that I didn’t fail in not getting accepted into those other jobs: everything happens for a reason x

    1. Maddie

      Ah that sounds like an amazing opportunity and I’m so glad you enjoyed it ☺️ I really agree that everything happens for a reason!

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