Ask Matt: 7 things college seniors should do now to land a job before graduation

Ask Matt: 7 things college seniors should do now to land a job before graduation was originally published on College Recruiter.


Dear Matt: I’m heading into the home stretch of my senior year of college, and have one semester left until graduation. A few classmates have already secured jobs that they will start soon after graduation. It made me realize that I too, should start the job search now. What tips do you have for college seniors who want to try and secure a job before graduation? What are those who get hired now doing to stand out and impress employers? Please share any tips and advice you can so I can start a job search and hopefully get hired before graduation! 

Matt: The senior year can be challenging for college students. And, for many, simply graduating is a major accomplishment. But the excitement of earning a college degree can quickly fade when there is no internship or job lined up after graduating. The reality is, most college seniors graduate without a job lined up. At the same time, there are also many who do graduate with a job lined up.

So how do they do it? What’s the secret to securing a job before graduation? What can college seniors do today to pay off tomorrow?

First, don’t panic, says Beth Hendler-Grunt, President of Next Great Step, a company that advises college students and recent grads on how to achieve career success.

“Your classmates may be telling you about the great job offer they secured upon graduation, and you may feel like the only one without your career figured out,” says Hendler-Grunt.

But there’s no need to worry.

“Most college students do not know what they are doing after they receive their diploma,” says Hendler-Grunt.

To secure a job before graduation it’s going to take hard work, diligence, and some outside-the-box thinking.

Start by assessing what you want to do after graduation, and then learn what you truly need to do to make it happen. Follow these tips from Hendler-Grunt:

1. Know your core skills: You’ve accomplished a lot in four (or more) years. Now is a good time to be self-aware and consider what skills you have to offer an employer. Make a list of all of the great things you have going for you. Then narrow down the list to include where you are most competent, what you are most talented at doing, and what you really enjoy doing. These are your core skills. Understanding your core skills is important for two reasons: It makes it easier to find out what types of jobs and companies to focus on, and it helps create your elevator speech – what you tell people about your career goals and aspirations when you meet them.

2. Update your resume: Employers are going to ask for it. Networking contacts will request it. And, it will be needed to apply for jobs. So don’t delay – update your resume now, and edit, change, adjust the resume based on the type of job or company you apply to. Seek resume writing advice and career tips from your campus career center/counselors.

3. Attend campus career fairs: Employers come directly to you. On campus. What could be better? But one must be prepared to succeed at a campus career fair (that’s why one needs an updated resume). Follow these additional tips to succeed at a campus career fair. “This is a great way to learn about companies – even if you don’t get hired right away,” says Hendler-Grunt.

4. Network: Seek out people in targeted roles and industries to connect with. Utilize the resources at your college career center and ask a career adviser to help connect you to alumni in the career field you would like to pursue. Try to set up informational interviews with these alumni. Use the LinkedIn Alumni Tool to find out which students graduated from your college/university. Reach out to these people. “Alumni tend to be receptive to speaking with fellow students,” says Hendler-Grunt.

Once these steps are in place, start the job search. But do so with a plan, says Kay Krienke, Associate Manager of college IT Recruiting at Progressive Insurance. Progressive employs nearly 30,000 employees across the country and is repeatedly named a best place to work in Cleveland, Austin, Tampa, and Colorado Springs. Progressive recruiting managers review thousands of applications and interview hundreds of candidates every year, including college seniors and recent college graduates who do line up jobs before graduation.

“Don’t apply to every open position you see, as it could raise a red flag to potential employers,” says Krienke. “This strategy suggests you don’t know what you want. Focus on the job or company best suited for you and your career goals. This will allow you to really sink your teeth into that industry and show employers that it’s what you’re passionate about. It will also make you more knowledgeable in the long run.”

Then, follow these tips from Krienke:

5. Do your homework – on potential employers: Get to know the companies you might be interested in working for. Visit the company website or look up news articles they have been featured in. While you’re still in school, research who leads the department you may want to work in your chosen career path at specific companies. “The more you know about each company, the better positioned you are to nail an interview if you’re given the chance,” says Krienke.

6. Ask for a recommendation: Remember all those professors and advisors you built relationships with? Chances are they’re cheering for you to succeed, so don’t be afraid to call in a favor. Ask for a recommendation, it adds an extra level of credibility to your job search. They can speak to your strengths and give proven examples of your performance.

7. Consider relocating: Students often limit their opportunities by looking for jobs only close to home or in obvious places. For example, if you’re looking for a job in tech, most people would immediately search for jobs in Silicon Valley, but why not try a smaller city that still has lots to offer? There are great tech jobs in unexpected places, like Cleveland or Colorado Springs that offer the same company benefits of a Silicon Valley organization with a more reasonable cost of living for a recent graduate.

The bottom line is this: It takes hard work and diligence to get hired before graduation. But taking proactive steps now can pay off big come graduation. Even if you do all of this and don’t get hired before graduation, you are that much more prepared – and that much farther ahead, of thousands of other college graduates who wait until spring or summer to start the job search.

“The job search can be long and challenging,” says Hendler-Grunt. “It is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s the ability to learn, persevere and take the lessons with you that help you move forward. You have a lot to be proud of. Just be persistent and it will pay off.”

Hopefully with a job lined up before you graduate.

What to do to land a job by graduation

Matt Krumrie

Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for

About Ask Matt on
Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.


By Matt Krumrie - College Recruiter
College Recruiter
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