LiveCareer Blog

December Graduate Checklist: 7 Tips for Getting Ahead

If you’re graduating and making the transition from academia to the “real world” this December, you may feel slightly out of sync with your peers and with standard hiring cycles. Typically, companies prepare for a wave of new interns and entry level hires in the summer, and they expect to have these new hires up and running by the end of the year. In the case of the December graduate, the flow may be slightly upended, and you may feel like you’re navigating the job search or finding your footing in a new position without much support. Be prepared to blaze your own trail and shape your own post-college destiny and you’ll be just fine. Here’s a simple to-do list that can help you stay on track.

Finals first

Solve one problem at a time. If you’re living too far in the future, you risk cutting corners and neglecting important responsibilities in the present. Don’t let your focus on the job search cause you to fumble your final exams, forget your overdue library books, or make any other mistakes that could compromise your graduation. Important milestones always seem to come with a host of administrative hassles; don’t let any of them slip through the cracks.

Establish your living situation

The job search is hard enough when you have a secure roof over your head. If you’re couch surfing or, worse, temporarily living out of your car, it can be exponentially harder. If your off-campus apartment lease or dorm room contract are coming to an end, get your moving plans settled first. Worry about your job search second.

Set a geographic search range

If you’re like many new college grads, your search range is “anywhere.” You’ll go where your first job takes you, and if you don’t like that city or town, you’ll move on when the time comes. But some first- time job seekers have a very specific location in mind, and if you’re in this category, set a target area on your LinkedIn profile and the heading and contact information section of your resume, as many recruiter and employer resume filters hone in on this information first.

Start blanketing your search area with resumes

It doesn’t matter if your first job isn’t your dream job—first jobs rarely put us at the very pinnacle of our careers. Remember, right after graduation, time is of the essence. If you refuse to “settle” for anything less than absolute perfection while searching for your first job out of college, you might be searching for a very long time. During that time, your resume will develop a widening gap and your bank account may thin out, leaving you with fewer options, not more. Just get your foot in the door—any door. First jobs don’t usually last longer than 2.5 years, so think of your first job as an adventure, not a life-long commitment.

Make your resume stand out

You may be submitting lots of resumes, but that doesn’t mean your resume should be sloppy or second-rate. Make sure every word is well-written, every detail is polished, and your proudest credentials appear prominently on the page. Add numbers and specifics to your accomplishments whenever possible.

Gather your references and recommendations while you can

You favorite professors, advisors, and work study supervisors can be powerful advocates during your job search, and while you’re still on campus and these people are within reach, make sure you connect with them and secure their support. Ask for letters of reference and ask if you can count on your supporters to speak well of you if they’re contacted by future employers in search of a testimonial.

Lean on your friends

The holiday season provides a great opportunity to reach out to your friends, your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends, your former bosses, and any potential contacts you may have within your target industry. Use the season as a reason to say hello and establish a personal connection.

Keep this list in mind, and when you’re finally out on your own you’ll be ready to seize the opportunities that come your way. Turn to LiveCareer for resume, cover letter, and job search tools that can help you navigate this exciting transition.