Bridge Insights

What To Do Next: A Guide for High School and College Graduates

May 24, 2022

Graduation is an exciting time for potential candidates and employers alike. While it is exciting, it also comes with a lot of uncertainty and stress. There is not a “one size fits all” plan when you are looking to start a career. There are things that can help with your search and make you an ideal candidate. Take a look at the specific ways below that not only help you stand out, but also ease some of the unknowns you may have when starting your job search for the first time. 

1. Utilize Your Alumni Resources

Whether you are a college or high school graduate, you may not know the resources at your fingertips after you graduate. You may have a career center, guidance counselors or career fairs that happen which are targeted directly towards finding jobs. These resources are easy ways to connect with individuals that have been in your shoes, or even connect with others that may have beneficial advice. Reach out to your career center or administration to be pointed in the right direction.

2. Start Networking and building out your social presence

With everything being so social media-focused today, having a strong online presence is a great way to stand out. While not every employer may look for your social media presence, it is better to be prepared than under-prepared. Handshake, Dice, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and more are great websites and apps to start building your presence on because these are where companies and recruiters will first look for potential candidates. 

[blockquotes color=”accent”] Failure to be forthcoming just leads to longer hiring times and headaches for everyone.[/blockquotes]

3. Put Together your resume

This is a huge one! Your resume is a piece of paper meant to represent who you are and what you want. Having a strong resume is crucial to your job search. There are endless resources and individuals that can assist in building out your resume, so use what you are most comfortable with while paying attention to detail! Make sure you have details on each job or experience you have had, and include any data including KPI’s, metrics, or deadlines you have met. Let your resume sing for you. 

4. Customize and “SEO” your profile and resume to match what you are targeting

One of the easiest ways to stand out is to “SEO” your profile and resume. SEO in terms of your resume means you are adding keywords in to help recruiters and companies find you easier. While you may not have experience related to the job, adding transferable skills to your resume will help paint that picture better for the recruiter. Targeting a sales job? Your recruiter may search keywords including “sales, quota, goals, salesforce, customer, account, etc.” To relay that into your resume: Include any metrics or quota you have met; or software you have been trained on. Remember you don’t need to have the experience, but instead relate it to what you do have including school projects, internships, volunteering, or anything else you may feel will be beneficial.  


5. Put together any documents that you think may help

Have references that can speak to your experience? Have a letter of recommendation? Make sure to attach those to either your resume or in a separate document! Recommendations and referrals mean so much to recruiters, employers, and to future teammates. 


6. When you apply, make sure you apply with a resume

Having a resume versus just filling out an application is an easy way to set yourself apart. You can only put so much on an application, so if you have the option-always attach your resume!  


7. Take courses if you feel it would be beneficial to the role you are targeting

If you have the time and the resources, investigate courses that relate to the job you are targeting. for an accounting role? Look into your excel skills and take courses and training related to it. LinkedIn offers several courses that you can take and then appear on your profile. These all help with your “profile SEO” and building your online presence. 


8. Prepare for your interview and utilize your recruiter

So… you are at the stage of being requested for an interview (Yay!). One of the easiest things you can do before an interview is prepare. This will put you at ease before an interview by feeling confident, but it also shows the company you put in the time to research, which to them highlights that you are invested. Are you working with a Recruiter? AMAZING!  

Working with a Recruiter is one of the most underutilized resources. Make sure to talk to your recruiter, they have an insight into the company and hiring manager than you may even realize. Recruiters can also provide you with interview preparation, commonly asked questions, and areas to highlight with your experience! 


9. Keep detailed notes on roles you apply for

This is an easy one to do but is often overlooked. It can be overwhelming when you apply and keeping notes will help you keep everything straight. It is a sure way to keep names and companies straight and that attention to detail will go far when speaking with employers. Be sure to take note of the date you applied, details of the role, names of supervisors and teammates, and any additional information you want to add. 


10. Follow up (with the right people, in the right way) after each stage (Applying, Interviewing, Offer)

Following up after each stage in an interview process is a great way to have interviewers remember you even more. Show your interest by following up after you apply with an email or phone call to the hiring manager or company and express your interest again. From there, at an interview, follow up with the interviewer and thank them for your time and restate your interest. This is an easy way to keep your name in their mind.


11. Be open-minded and flexible as a new grad and target company versus the role itself

As a recent graduate, the possibilities are endless with where you can go and what you can do. If you are having a hard time finding the dream job you are seeking, it may be time to focus more on the company that aligns with your values and has the potential to get where you want to go, rather than jumping right in. Utilize Glassdoor and Google reviews to see what company deserves your interest.


12. Make a Checklist

We recommend making a checklist when starting your job search. Take note of our recommendations below to include on your checklist!

  • Your timeline of when you want to start a job and remember it may not go according to plan 
  • Your target salary range (Do market research on what jobs you are targeting and what the roles are paying currently that you are targeting) 
  • Your non-negotiables (What are you not willing to budge on whether it be benefits, work schedule and flexibility, culture, growth plans, etc.) 
  • Companies you are targeting and key people to reach out and connect with 
  • Have references ready to go 
  • What documents you need when you get an offer including: Identification, W-4, I-9, Vaccination Records, Bank Details for direct deposit and anything additional you need for background checks and drug screens 


Stay positive, have fun, and know the right job is out there for you. Do not let rejection get you down, and practice balancing your time! Remember that job searching is a full-time job in itself. What you are doing WILL pay off in time, and you will achieve your goals and dreams, just stick with it. Need more advice or have questions? Reach out to us to get in touch and talk about our open roles.