10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Recent Grad

Congratulations recent graduate! This is an exciting (and scary) time in your life. To help you start out on this new chapter, here is our insight on what we wish we knew when we graduated.

Be open minded and stay positive. Don’t become frustrated

Being a recent graduate can be stressful. The most important thing to remember, is to remain open minded and positive. Finding a new role, other than student, and determining where you want to be and go can be frustrating. Step out of your comfort zone and try new things!

  • Go to events that you wouldn’t normally go to and NETWORK! Don’t be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself to new people.
  • Look out for events posted by SHRM and National HR Association, as well as local job and career fairs
  • If you don’t hear back from a job posting you’ve applied to, or you haven’t found a job before you graduated, do not worry

We promise you will find a job. Stay persistent and keep searching, the right opportunity is right around the corner.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The first thing you should get used to doing is asking for help and advice.  There are plenty of people who would love to guide you through the job search process.  Ask them for help and tell them your ideas and interests. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions.

Add people you meet at events on LinkedIn so you can stay in touch. Reach out to your professors for recommendations and leads. Alumni are another great resource, willing to help new alumni make the transition into the work force. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Register with a staffing agency

Staffing agencies are a great way to find work whether it is temporary, temp-hire, or permanent. Local recruiters like AP know their market, and can provide insight on area companies and job openings.

Agencies are available to point you in the right direction and tell you about available positions you might be a good fit for. For recent graduates who don’t know exactly what they want to do, staffing agencies are a great way to get experience in a variety of fields, introducing you to different opportunities.

When working with an agency, be open and honest. When you are completely open with your recruiting partner they are better able to help you find your best fit. But, just because you are registered with a staffing agency, don’t stop your search! They are an additional source that is always there to help where they are connected.

Take temp work!

If you’re not completely sure where you want to end up, or you just need a way to keep yourself busy, take temp work. Temp work allows you to gain great experience. You can see other companies and determine what you like in relation to location, size, culture, etc.

Temp work is a great way to make connections and meet new people. Just because there is not an permanent opening at that company, it doesn’t mean they don’t know of other opportunities.  Chances are, they will be able to point you towards someone who is looking for a permanent employee. While temping, don’t be afraid to continue searching for a permanent opportunity.

Know what you want, and if you don’t, try things out!

It is completely okay to not know exactly what you want in a career. You’re still young! However, the more you know the better. For the people in your network to help you, it helps to have an idea of what you want. Saying you don’t know or you don’t care shows you aren’t interested in finding a job and you’re not goal oriented. Start by generate the core of what you want in a company, like:

  • Size
  • Location / commute
  • Industry
  • Salary
  • Type of work
  • Culture
  • The company mission

Triple check your resume, cover letter, and references – and then have two other people check them too!

You can never have too many people look over your resume and cover letter! They are your first impression to a potential employer, so make sure they reflect you in the best way possible. Ask a couple of people in your network to check your resume for grammar mistakes and for suggestions on how to improve it.

Less is more. Let your experience and background speak for itself. Make sure your cover letter is tailored to the position and the company you are applying for.

Carefully choose two to three professional references who can speak to your abilities. Make sure they are aware you listed them as a reference and that their contact information is up to date.

Even though it can be hard, be open to criticism and changes to your resume and cover letter!

Do your research

Before you meet with a company, do your research. Go to their website and read their mission and value statement. Find out what the company does and their history.

When you find out who you’re interviewing with, make sure you do research on them as well. Try to find out their background and what they do within their current company. Little things like this will help you develop credibility and show your interviewers you are very interested.

Follow up

Be sure to send a follow-up email thanking everyone you met with.  A thank you note is great opportunity to ask any questions you may have thought of after the fact. Make sure you proof read this as well!

Be timely with your response. Notes should be sent within 24 hours of your meeting. If you don’t have someone’s contact information, take a look on the company’s website or their LinkedIn. Sending an extra note can go a long way!

Don’t accept the job, just because it’s a job

Before you accept a position, make sure it is truly the right fit for you. Look over the job description, and responsibilities. Make sure you agree with the company’s goals, values, and mission. Find out what the culture is like, and see if it’s the right fit for you! Don’t accept a job if there are red flags that it is not the right fit for you.

Stay busy

If you’re struggling to find a position, make sure you’re keeping yourself busy. Stay involved and active in the community. Go to networking events and volunteer at local organizations. Or, ask to shadow someone! These are great way to grow your resume and gain skills while still looking for the best position. This also shows future employers that you’re well rounded and dedicated!

Written By:

Melissa Houghtalen

Melissa is a Placement Director for Engineering & Operations, and Information Technology. She focuses on both entry to executive level engineering and operations placements, as well as entry to executive level information technology placements in the Rochester region. She joined the company in 2017 as a Payroll & Recruiting Coordinator before moving to the Engineering & Operations team as a Recruiting Specialist in 2019. Since, Melissa has transitioned to a Placement Director position and has started the inception of the Information Technology division in AP in 2022. Melissa is a 2016 graduate of Nazareth College with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

Contact Melissa