How to Find a Job After College

Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Robert Porter

Utilize these expert tips to enhance your employability and stand out to potential employers after graduation.


Welcome to a guide dedicated to individuals committed to honing their expertise, optimizing earnings, and becoming indispensable in their chosen field.

Dive deep into understanding your intrinsic strengths and transforming them into marketable skills.

This is the path to achieving career satisfaction through unwavering dedication.

Move beyond generic resume advice and cliched calls to "follow your passion."

I've curated these principles based on my personal professional journey.

By embracing these guidelines, you'll elevate your job prospects, grasp how to make organizations eager to onboard and elevate you, and learn the art of converting your intellectual prowess into a lucrative profession and fulfilling career.

Lesson #1

Discover Your Career Path: Focus on Core Strengths

While many seek guidance on specific career choices, the reality is, I can't decide for you based on limited information. The question isn’t whether a career in data analysis or creative advertising is right for you, but rather, what truly drives you?

Instead of prescribing a particular career, I'll guide you in identifying your innate strengths. These strengths, when recognized, pave the way to a career that not only resonates with you but also propels you to success.

The most successful individuals spotlight their strengths, steering clear from being generalists. They chase both passion and mastery. A defining core skill is imperative for success.

Drawing inspiration from Chris Humphrey of, there are four fundamental skill domains:

  1. Leadership & Management
  2. Creativity & Communication
  3. Analysis & Research
  4. Technical & Information Skills

Although this is a simplified classification and many might find their skills spanning across categories, it serves as a compass to find your professional 'true north'. For instance:

  • A teacher primarily aligns with Leadership & Management.
  • Writers or PR specialists resonate with the Creativity & Communication domain.
  • Roles like a CIA analyst or market researcher belong to the Analysis domain.
  • Careers like engineering, web development, or accounting sit in the Technical domain.

To truly thrive, zone in on your predominant strength. Recognize it, nurture it, and let it guide your career trajectory. Everyone possesses this innate strength, waiting to be discovered.

Ignore Weakness

Andy Johns, a prodigious former social sciences graduate and an early Facebook team member, now sought-after by global companies, underscores the importance of recognizing and capitalizing on your core strengths.

He believes graduates should gravitate towards roles that amplify their innate strengths. By aligning your profession with your competencies, you not only find fulfillment in your work but also enhance your chances of excelling in it.

Diversifying skills is essential, but core expertise should be non-negotiable. For instance, while I occasionally delve into technical spheres, creativity is what truly resonates with me.

Neglecting your core strength puts you at a competitive disadvantage. If you're torn between your poetic inclinations and engineering tasks, you'll be contending with peers whose sole passion is engineering. Their mission is excellence, while yours might be mere survival.

Interestingly, this perspective is dual-sided. An analytical individual with a penchant for numbers and data can seamlessly dissect voluminous records and derive insights. However, when faced with decisions demanding leadership or strategic foresight, they might falter, as that isn't their forte.

Often, technical individuals undervalue soft skills, primarily due to their unpredictable nature. Unlike well-defined technical tasks, soft skills demand a high tolerance for ambiguity. Take sales, for instance, where every client is a new challenge with no fixed rulebook. Such fluid scenarios can be daunting for those with analytical dispositions, who seek replicable, consistent outcomes.

Personal insights:

  • CEO roles never appealed to me, as I acknowledged my limitations in management and leadership.
  • While analytical roles intrigue me, they don't align with my daily aspirations.
  • I've dabbled in coding, but mastering it isn't my cup of tea.
  • Creative roles, such as becoming a renowned musician or a writer, resonate with me, emphasizing my tilt towards creativity and communication.

Ultimately, career choices hinge on identifying the skills you cannot forsake.

Sex, Drugs, or Rock and Roll?

Recall the memorable scene from Spinal Tap? The filmmaker probes the band's drummer, “Can you picture life sans rock and roll?” After a contemplative pause, the drummer responds, “If the allure of sex and drugs remains, I'd willingly forgo rock and roll.”

Much like him, while I appreciate the world of analysis and coding, they aren't indispensable for me. My essence lies in Creativity & Communication.

So, what's your innate strength?

Reflect upon the categories mentioned. Is there a specific domain you genuinely can't relinquish?

Your primary mission is to recognize that ideal roles align with companies seeking your specific skill set. We'll delve deeper into this later. But for now, embrace and commit to your dominant strength.

Echoing Andy Johns' sentiment, "Each individual possesses distinct strengths and shortcomings. It's pivotal to focus on accentuating those strengths and synergizing them with roles that leverage them consistently."

Your Next Step

Determine your path. Initiate by discerning your dominant strength, setting aside the remainder.

Which of these skill areas echoes with your persona? Set aside apprehensions about potential career paths. Each of these domains offers a myriad of professions with comparable remunerations (barring the CEO position).

  • Leadership & Management
  • Creativity & Communication
  • Analysis & Research
  • Technical & Information Skills

For a comprehensive breakdown of these skill categories, refer to the detailed post at

Lesson #2

Prioritize Skill Development Over Subject Mastery

Picture this: It’s a breezy Friday night. I’m engrossed in a career conversation with a friend at our favorite pub. Freshly graduating with a social sciences degree, she proudly says, “My expertise lies in community composting. Although I majored in political science, my research revolves around municipal composting programs. I’ve consumed every significant publication on this topic. My aim? A government job, given my proficiency in the domain.”

But, here’s the hitch. Where is she likely to falter in turning this knowledge into employment?

Renowned education and entrepreneurship commentator, Michael Edmondson, aptly points out, “Universities categorize learning by subjects – be it history, economics, or science. However, the professional sphere is driven by skills, not subjects."

The misstep my friend might encounter in job hunting stems from her belief that knowledge of a subject is paramount.

In reality, transitioning from academia to a professional setting necessitates understanding that skill application, not just knowledge, is pivotal.

Most academic disciplines, be it English, History, or Biology, arm you with theoretical knowledge. The onus lies on you to morph this abstract learning into tangible, marketable skills.

If your expertise doesn’t culminate in a tangible product or service, employment may remain elusive.

Consider this: Knowing how to write is fundamental. But monetizing it requires specialized applications, like crafting a compelling speech for a political candidate or drafting persuasive sales content.

F.B.I. analysts aren’t just analytically adept; their skills lead to actionable criminal findings. Likewise, a creative consultant's innovations should drive web traffic or spike sales figures.

Merely claiming expertise (like, "I’m a life coach helping you chase dreams") isn't enough. The key lies in delivering tangible results.

Echoing back to my friend, her forte lies in knowledge. Her proposition? “Hire me, and I’ll share my vast knowledge.”

However, the real-world demands results derived from knowledge, not just knowledge dissemination. I’d prefer a doctor to treat me rather than explain the science behind the treatment. Similarly, I'd want a mechanic to fix my car, not elaborate on mechanical theories.

The essence is clear: People value the practical application of your knowledge, not just the knowledge itself.

Experience compels knowledge to be actionable. My friend, aiming to spearhead community composting initiatives, believes her extensive reading will suffice. However, real-world challenges – like coordinating with multiple city stakeholders, aligning with garbage unions, or selecting optimal days for compost collection – demand more than mere theoretical know-how.

The takeaway? Practical application of knowledge is a distinct ball game. And, employers universally acknowledge that experience trumps mere theoretical knowledge.

To truly shine, divert your energy from merely accumulating knowledge to actively garnering hands-on experience. This is a proven recipe for success.

But here’s the age-old catch: “How do I gain experience for my first job?”

Every newbie faces this conundrum. The solution? Proactively seek opportunities. Even if it means interning, freelancing, or offering your services pro bono initially.

Your Next Move

Commit to amassing experience in your desired domain this year.

Regardless of the approach – whether it's networking, volunteering, or freelancing – prioritize hands-on experience. Because, in the end, relevant experience in a viable domain is the surefire ticket to consistent financial rewards. Experience truly bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and profitable skills.

Lesson #3

Master One, Excel in All: The Power of Specialization

Imagine this: seven years back, amidst the hum of lawnmowers and, occasionally, the unpleasant surprise of dog excrement, I was a regular worker, earning just enough to get by. Despite holding a Master’s degree in Literature, I felt a void, a sense of directionlessness. I envisioned a future in publishing or critiquing literature, yet nothing seemed tangible.

Fast forward to the present: I'm prepping to step into the swanky global headquarters of my tech firm, replete with all modern-day start-up frills – beers, dogs, avant-garde interiors, a clandestine bar, and even an indoor music arena. Just last Christmas, our party was graced by Cirque du Soleil performers. My portfolio boasts collaborations with Silicon Valley bigwigs, Google, Thomson Reuters, and leading a digital blueprint for a national brand.

Now, this isn't a boastful monologue. While my achievements might seem insignificant in the vast tech ecosystem, the crux is how I went from a confused literature postgrad to a thriving tech professional. And the secret? Specialization.

Zeroing in on a particular skill is like acquiring a golden key to success. Yet, it's a path seldom chosen.

Interestingly, the heart finds joy in what it's dedicated to. The quest for excellence is innate. Whether you're an adept guitarist or a cello maestro, the joy derived is unparalleled.

So, the formula is simple:

  1. Specialize: Dive deep into one domain.
  2. Strive for Excellence: Aim to be the best in that niche.
  3. Maintain Focus: Keep distractions at bay and steer clear of diluting your expertise.

Start with a broad career vision, say, "government analyst," then narrow it down. Perhaps you're passionate about "fostering community relations among indigenous youth." Surround your growth with skills pertinent to that niche.

The beauty of specialization is that it makes your professional trajectory laser-focused. You become a magnet for the right opportunities. Just the other day, a prospective employer reached out on LinkedIn, purely based on my niche expertise. Such serendipities occur more often than you'd imagine.

Now, the looming question for many is the fear of being pigeonholed. What if I yearn for a change later? But here's the thing: specialization doesn’t curtail your freedom. On the contrary, being specialized often gives you a solid foundation to pivot if needed. But more often than not, once you're engrossed and flourishing, there's seldom a desire to deviate.

Your Next Step

Carve out a niche within your career space and aim to be its maestro.

For instance, a friend, aspiring to collaborate with outdoor brands, juggles between writing, videography, and web development. My counsel? Focus solely on leveraging YouTube to showcase outdoor-centric content. Master the nuances of this platform, understand its technicalities, and closely observe leading outdoor brands.

By offering brands this distinct expertise, he embarks on the journey of specialization. And so should you.

Lesson #4

Unleash Your Potential: Mastering the 'X' Factor

Every skill addresses a challenge. Often, people desire something but a particular obstacle, let's call it 'X', hinders their progress. They have two options: confront this 'X' themselves or hire an expert to navigate it for them.

Consider this: someone feels conscious about their nose and yearns for an aesthetic transformation. Enter the Beverly Hills Surgeon, proclaiming, “With my expertise in cosmetic surgery, I can enhance your appearance and give you the nose you desire!" Here, the surgeon is addressing a significant 'X', which justifies their premium charges.

Similarly, a tech firm, although tech-savvy, lacks creativity. A creative agency steps in, declaring, “Our creative prowess can craft a viral video for you, amplifying your brand's cool quotient.” In essence, a skill bridges the gap between a person's current state and their aspirations, acting as the solution to their 'X'.

The core takeaway? The intricate and challenging the 'X' you tackle, the higher your value and remuneration.

Post-college, my venture into landscaping predominantly involved tasks easily undertaken by individuals, had they the time and inclination. Our offerings, although useful, were not unique, making us susceptible to being replaced, especially during financial crunches. We were addressing a rather trivial 'X'.

This scenario isn't exclusive to landscaping but spans sectors like housekeeping, culinary arts, fitness coaching, and even tax consultation.

To upscale your earnings, it's imperative to hone skills that aren't easily duplicated by the masses.

Expand Your X-Resolution Scope

Upon initiating your career, constantly scout for heftier 'X' challenges.

A cardinal career strategy: cultivate skills that aren't effortlessly duplicated.

For instance, had I persisted in landscaping, an avenue for growth would have been mastering intricate tasks such as complex stonework or water feature installation – skills not easily mimicked by every other competitor.

Essentially, your expertise should position you as indispensable.

The underlying principle is ensuring your skills produce results that are challenging for clients to emulate.

Chart Your Course

Where do you envision your skillset in five years? You might be a novice today, but imagine the depth you could attain in half a decade.

  • Delve into intricate analytical systems.
  • Craft compelling non-fiction, capturing every subtle technique.
  • Master every guitar chord and pioneer an online guitar academy.
  • Immerse in oenology, aspiring to be a sought-after sommelier.

Set your sights high and channel your efforts towards resolving substantial 'X' challenges.

Never stagnate in your skill journey. Continuously refine and evolve. Platforms like Skillshare offer a plethora of professional development courses. I advocate frequenting such platforms. For instance, this year, I enrolled in courses spanning HTML, Excel, and Data Analysis on Skillshare.

Today, dive into Skillshare and explore the myriad courses available. Elevate your professional trajectory, one skill at a time.

Bonus Lesson

Unlock Success with the 4X1 Goal Setting Strategy

Years ago, when the world seemed bigger and I was much younger, I confidently entered a financial planning office. My aim? To invest 20% of my modest income, a feasible target given my age and circumstances. The financial planner remarked, “Maintain this, and wealth will follow.” Her optimism was palpable as I stepped out, basking in the sun's glow.

While I did amass a decent sum by 18, a reckless summer during college saw it all squandered. My lofty ambition to return to investing 20% post-graduation, once I started earning a significant amount, proved to be misguided.

Over time, I've honed the art of goal setting and, more importantly, achieving them.

Understanding and accepting trade-offs is pivotal to realizing your aspirations.

Reflecting on the previous year, my aspirations seemed endless: penning a novel, composing music, honing my singing, crafting new songs, and writing non-fiction. The result? An array of incomplete ideas, an unpolished singing voice, and a plethora of unrealized non-fiction concepts stored away.

This wasn't the creative satisfaction I yearned for. My writings lacked finesse, and numerous meaningful songs remained unrecorded. This unfulfillment weighed on me.

Adapting and refining, I introduced a structured approach to my goal-setting. I now focus on four core areas, allocating a single, definitive objective for each annually.

In this article, I'm pulling back the curtain on my tried-and-tested system, infused with insights gleaned from extensive reading.

Within the upcoming 365 days, every goal I outline here will come to fruition. I've achieved this in the past, and I'm fiercely determined to replicate this success.

Remember these cardinal rules:

  1. Prioritizing quality over quantity accelerates achievement.
  2. Embrace the necessity of trade-offs.
  3. Zero in on concrete results, sidelining mere wishes.

Let's embark on this transformative goal-setting journey!