Land the Job

6 ways college grads can find their first job faster

Millennials and Gen Zers receive plenty of advice on how to ace a job interview. But before you can wow an interviewer, you have to actually land an interview.

Applying for jobs may feel like it's mostly a waiting game, but there's more to do than just submitting applications online, and taking those extra steps will get you better job search results.

CNBC Make It spoke to Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, who offers new grads these tips:

1. Prioritize your connections

Identify who in your already-established network currently works or previously worked in the field you are most interested in. Augustine also suggests keeping any highly-social friends in mind.

"These natural connectors from your personal network can often introduce you to relevant people outside your social circle that could be valuable during your search," says Augustine.

2. Don't underestimate your alma mater

Alumnifire, an alumni networking platform, found that 90 percent of hiring managers would prefer to hire a fellow alumnus if possible.

In order to find alums who work in your target field, attend alumni events in your area and use LinkedIn to sift through search results. If you find an alum connected to a particular company or industry you're interested in, approach them with confidence. Briefly mentioning that you went to the same college is a great way to spark a conversation.

3. Join organizations

In college, social groups and clubs are often built into campus life, but to continue to make new friends and expand your network after graduation, Augustine suggests using websites such as Directory of Associations, VolunteerMatch and Meetup to find people with common interests.

"The bigger your network, the easier it will become to find and connect with others who can help you achieve your job-search goals," she says.

4. Invest in your professional development

Begin by taking advantage of informational interviews. These differ from traditional job interviews in that the goal is to gain insight into your desired field or a specific company, allowing you to take steps to become a more marketable candidate.

You may also want to work on developing a new skill to better your chances of being hired for a position. Search for industry conferences or start a free or low-cost online course through platforms such as Courseera, edX, Skillshare or Lynda.

5. Consider taking side gigs

Whether it's helping out at a non-profit or picking up some extra freelance work, there are plenty of experiences that might not be full-time but could be great resume-boosters. In addition, they can lead to new connections that can open doors to job opportunities.

When looking for freelance listings, check out websites like UpWork, Freelancer, Guru and College Recruiter.

6. Take another look at your resume

"Think of your resume as a marketing document whose content has been carefully curated based on your job goals," says Augustine, "rather than a record of your work history and education."

This will help get through the applicant tracking systems that some employers use. These systems sort through resumes and highlight top candidates by searching for keywords related to the position being applied for.

In order to get through the system and have your resume seen by human eyes, make sure to tailor your resume for each application by focusing on direct qualifications that are relevant to the role you are applying for.

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