How to Get a Job After College: Guidance for 2018 Graduates

· by Mariah Ramirez

Mariah is the Senior Marketing Coordinator at HTI. She joined the HTI team in 2018.
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You’re a College Graduate! Now What?

Congratulations, graduates! You’re Certified Adults™ now! You feel totally prepared to take on the world, right? Now that you’ve got the degree there’s just one more thing you need, the first job. *Cue Daunting Music* Although it seems intimidating at first, once you know where to start, where to go, and how to get there, it’s a piece of cake. From a recent graduate to you, here are all the things I wish I’d known straight out of college.



How can you demonstrate a strong work ethic if you have no work experience yet?
As college graduates, employers will be looking at your GPA and your commitment to extracurricular activities. Consistency and longevity is key. Wherever possible, incorporate how you grew into a leadership role, add the number of years you committed to an organization, and highlight any special projects you took initiative on.

How can I qualify for an “entry-level” job that requires 2-3 years’ experience?
Often, hiring managers are more focused on the “soft” skills necessary for a job rather than the hard-technical skills because these are the skills that are missing. Even Google thinks so. Anyone can learn a new program, be trained in processes, etc. if they have the right attitude. With that in mind, don’t sell yourself short!

“’You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ Wayne Gretzky” – Michael Scott”


If you match 85% of the skills and traits laid out in the job description, still apply. You may be pleasantly surprised. And if you’re not, you’ll be in the same place you started.

Don’t misunderstand me though, I’m not suggesting as a college graduate seeking an entry-level position in Graphic Design that you should apply for a Senior Level Marketing Manager position. What I mean is, consider the job search in some ways as a numbers game – a law of averages if you will. The more jobs you apply to (within reason) the higher your chances of getting to an interview, the more interviews you go on, the more offers you’ll receive, the more offers you receive, the more likely you are to eagerly accept one.

How can I get my application noticed?

Golden Hour to Apply for Graduates HTI

In a sea of applicants, how do you stand out? Apply within “The Golden Hour” of the original date of the job posting. Studies show you are 8 times more likely to get an interview if you apply in the first 96 hours of the job posting.

After 10 days, you have less than 1.5% chance of getting an interview. The reality is HR departments are frequently undervalued and understaffed in organizations. By the time a job is posted, it’s likely they need someone to fill the position yesterday. Pay attention to the posting date and check back 2-3 times a week for new postings. I suggest subscribing for notifications of job titles you’re interested in.

To narrow the window even more, a recent study found you are 5x more likely to get an interview if you apply between 6AM and 10 AM. As a result, chances of landing an interview increase by 5x versus if you apply to a job in the afternoon, specifically, after 4:00 PM. If you’re open to relocation, make sure you’re applying during the 6-10AM timeframe of your potential employer’s time zone.

In-Demand Skills

Collaboration Graduates HTICreativity Graduates HTICritical Thinking Graduates HTICommunication Graduates HTI


Remember the 4 Cs – Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Communication. As employers started to identify skills gaps in the workforce, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in the U.S. developed these core pillars for a new model they coined 21st Century Learning. Focusing on the 4 Cs has become a high priority for schools and professional development. While there are certain “buzz words” you can include on your resume to demonstrate these skills, highlighting this will be most advantageous during your interview.

For example, a typical interview question is, “Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.” This is the perfect opportunity to highlight one or all these 4 Cs. Presently, companies such as Apple, Dell, Disney, Ford, etc. are seeking these characteristics aggressively.

The Interview

STAR Method for Graduates HTI

The best advice I received in my years at university, I now pass onto you. It can be easy to get lost in the middle of your answer to the interviewers’ question. Suddenly you’re rambling on, the interviewer is glazing over, and you’ve lost track of what the original question even was. First, if this happens, don’t try to fake it ‘til you make it. Interviewers are looking to see how you genuinely interact with others. Notice your pace, pause, and politely ask, “Did that answer your question?” or “I’m sorry, what was the question again?” The interviewer will respect your honesty and integrity.

To proactively avoid this situation, follow the S.T.A.R. method.

When answering questions such as the one above, or other scenario types where you can tell a story, stay on course by remembering Situation, Task, Action, Results. Start with the situation at hand, lead into the task, then the action you took, and the results of that course of action. Following these steps ensures you answer the question fully and you don’t miss opportunities to showcase important skills.

Start to Finish

Overall, though the job search can be draining, things are looking up. You will have to apply to many jobs, and you will have to work your way up, but you’ve got this in the bag! Bookmark this article and reference it when you feel weary or overwhelmed.

Finally, and most importantly, make sure you follow this list.

  • I tailored my resume to this specific job description
  • I tailored my cover letter to this specific job description and organization
  • To the best of my ability, I applied within “The Golden Hour” of the date posted
  • I have researched the company I am applying to and if they wish to move forward, I will research more. (There’s no point in wasting you or the recruiter’s time if you know this is a company you do not want to work for based on your research.)
  • I will prepare questions to ask my interviewer during the interview
  • I will arrive at my interview 5-10 minutes early. (Any more and your time management seems poorly honed, any less and you will appear rude and inconsiderate.)
  • I will answer interview questions using the S.T.A.R. method where applicable
  • I will focus on the 4 Cs and demonstrate how I have each of these skills
  • Between 3-5 days after my interview, I will send a thank you email or letter

I'm Ready Graduates HTI

There you have it – the road map to your first job. Good luck, graduates! Welcome to the working world!