10 Things You Must Know Your First Year Out of College
By Rachel Zupek
Have you ever noticed how young people graduate from college and suddenly they think they know everything? While they may know a lot about pulling all-nighters, taking tests and doing keg stands, they don't know as much as they think when it comes to careers.
They don't know if they'll be able to do everything necessary to get a job or if they have what it takes to keep one. They don't know how long the job search will take or if they'll have to relocate for it. They don't know what makes an exciting job or what employers really look for in candidates. The list goes on.
"Even though you may think you learned a lot in college, companies that recruit you and your comrades aren't necessarily interested in what you know right now," says Nicholas Aretakis, author of "No More Ramen: The 20-something's Real World Survival Guide."
"They're interested in what you can learn and what you can contribute. They are interested in your potential."
With the ever evolving job-seeking canvas, nothing is a guarantee. If you arm yourself now with the necessary knowledge to find – and keep – a job your first year out of college, all of the other pieces will fall into place.
Here are 10 "must knows" during your first year after college, according to Aretakis' book.
21 Things Hiring Managers Wish You Knew
"Must Know" No. 1: You don't have to respond to an online job posting first
When you apply to online job boards like CareerBuilder.com, you have to consider what's happening on the hiring side as well, Aretakis says.
"I guarantee there's no one sitting at a desk on the other side, patiently waiting for responses to the ad," he says. Given this knowledge, getting your response in first is probably not going to make a difference in if you land an interview. Respond within a few days of the listing and you'll be fine.
"Must Know" No. 2: Take advantage of the hidden job market
What is this so-called hidden market? It refers to the jobs you won't find on career sites or newspapers, but through your friends, family and professors, Aretakis says.
"You have to know your dreams and be able to tell others what you want, what you like, dislike and what you aspire to. If you can articulate this to someone, chances are they or someone they know can help you get there," he says.
"Must Know" No. 3: Know what to look for in an employer
"Yes, you want to be paid well," Aretakis says. "But you also have to consider that this is a place where you'll spend most of your waking hours. Among other things, you want to know that your employer cares about people and has a purpose."
Aretakis suggests researching such areas as industry, market, diversity, revenues, profits, culture and what people are saying about the company and its image, before applying for a job there.
"Must Know" No. 4: Know what to look for in a job
Most people just starting out all have the same fear: becoming a working stiff. However, most of these people have jobs that are too easy, are just in it for the money or aren't making the most of his or her time.
"In addition to working for and with good people, you want to find a position where you'll be able to start building a track record," Aretakis says. "Look for a job that you can envision yourself doing for a couple of years. Job stability early in your career is a definite plus."
"Must Know" No. 5: Pace yourself
Like running a marathon, when it comes to starting your career, don't start out in an all-out sprint. It's fine to work hard but make sure maintain a balance, Aretakis says.
"You will exceed your ambitions if you set a pace that can be maintained. Not too slow that you get complacent, and not too fast that you become overwhelmed, impatient, stressed and burned out," he says.
Must Know" No. 6: Time is money
"Punctuality matters in the workplace and in life, plain and simple," Aretakis says. Think of it this way: If an employer pays four people $50 per hour and one individual is late to a meeting while the others wait, it's at least $200 of wasted pay. Respect other peoples' time and they will respect yours.
"Must Know" No. 7: Trust is everything
Relationships are built on trust, whether it's in your personal life or your work life. For example, if your customers don't think you're giving them your best price, you'll have trouble getting business from them, Aretakis says. Be open and honest with everyone and your relationship will be a tough bond to break.
"Must Know" No. 8: Say what you'll do, and do what you say
There are too many people who provide lip service and commit to actions they don't intend to follow through on, Aretakis says.
"In an ultracompetitive business environment, you can excuse people for overcommitting themselves once in awhile, provided they made a sincere effort or events beyond their control prevented them from getting the job done."
"Must Know" No. 9: Passion yields success
"Pour your heart into it and strive to find a career that you can be as passionate about as you are about your hobbies," Aretakis says. "Find a field that you genuinely love, where you will actually enjoy learning everything you can. Your success and passion for your chosen field will become infectious."
"Must Know" No. 10: You live with the choices you make
You are the only one who has to live with your choices and each one has consequences, good and bad.
"If you can figure out how to balance an inspiring career and a lifestyle you'll enjoy, you will be better off than 99 percent of the world's population," Aretakis says. "It's really challenging to find the dream job that is fun, pays well and provides you the freedom and sense of accomplishment everyone wants. Find all four of those elements – enjoyment, money, freedom and accomplishment – in your life, then balance them and that may very well be the definition of happiness."
About the Author: Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.