Tips For Getting A Job After College So You Don’t Have To Live In Mom’s Basement

When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a job offer. I was five months into a six month interview process, that seemed hopeful, but I had nothing in writing when my name was called. I was scared sh!#less about having to go back to my first job flipping burgers at McDonald’s. I mostly thought about how I let my parents down and what a loser I was for being unemployable after all this time studying. Magnu cum laude didn’t stand for anything. It was a scary feeling.

Jobless in June, I decided to visit my good friend who was studying abroad in Japan. I had nothing better to do than to wait my fate. I wasn’t about to stay at home miserable, twiddling my thumbs. Instead, I wanted to visit Tokyo and the outer areas where one of my best friends roamed. They say the best cure for worry is to keep busy. Staying busy is what I did.

After a month of traveling around and following up once a week, I got an e-mail from human resources asking me to come in and do one final screening. Crap, I wasn’t in the States, but in Asia I told them. She laughed it off and told me not to worry. She would be sending me a provisional offer letter via e-mail that I would have to sign and fax back to her. The job was mine, provided I pass the drug test when I returned. Oh boy, time to put away the bong! Just kidding. I would never condone the smoking of something natural. Only the chemically infused tobacco cigarettes should be allowed given how much lobbying money they spend on our government!


Getting a job is like winning the lottery. No matter what job you end up getting, know that many people have applied before you and didn’t get the offer. Therefore, don’t ever take your job for granted. Despite an improving economic environment, it still seems landing a job is quite challenging with some saying the unemployment rate for those 25 and under is close to 50%. The following are some tips for getting a job after college.

* Have the most updated resume. You always want to have the most recent resume in hand to fire off if anybody asks. Please read, “Examples of Good Resumes That Get Jobs” to improve your resume format and content. This is the most basic weapon you need for your quest for employment.  Next up, develop your interview skills.  After interviewing over 300 candidates over the past decade, I’ve put together some interview tips for you all, from a hiring manager’s point of view.

* Seek advice from professors. Professors have more connections than you can imagine. Hopefully through your college days, you’ve developed a close relationship with a couple more seasoned professors who can help pass your name to prospective employers. Remember, great professors tend to have great students over the years who become important people. Take your professors out for a lunch and seek their advice.

* Swallow your pride and ask those who got jobs for help. It’s really hard to speak to, let alone be in the same room, with someone who has a job offer when you don’t. You naturally detest their very existence, but know that this feeling is counterproductive. Instead, congratulate them for their success and ask them if they can introduce you to one of their company’ recruiters. The recruiter is excited for landing this individual, and may very well be asking their new hire for any other recommendations.

* Leverage social media and the internet. There are online job boards everywhere. Applying online becomes a numbers game, hence you need to send out as many personalized e-mails and handsome applications as possible. The reality is, most people get jobs either because they are just so outstanding on paper, or because they have connections. As a result, you need to leverage your friends on FB, LinkedIn, and Twitter with direct questions and calls for help. Again, swallow your pride. Everybody knows it’s tough getting a job out there. Recollect all the times you’ve helped out your friends, and just be very frank and ask them if they know of any leads. Also, make sure to clean up all those risque pictures and ridiculous profiles on Facebook!

* Identify booming industries and hot locations. You should know that the San Francisco Bay Area is on fire, because there’s a big social media bubble brewing with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. Therefore, you should direct your job seeking efforts towards Northern California. The influx of capital is spreading out to all industries such as private equity, hospitality, retail, and real estate. You have plenty of choices, and not just the Internet sector. It’s important not to pigeon hole yourself into one area. Studying a major that features a broad range of potential career paths is also a good idea, as it allows you to identify a number of different booming industries and hot locations. You can then apply in each of these industries and, in some cases, choose the career and location that best suits you. There are plenty of affordable communities and apartment options in the area. Earning a broad degree also provides you with the chance to make more money because you can apply in many different industries and then sell your services to the highest bidder. You are never trapped when you go in this direction because you will always have other options.

* Lock down your finances. You are in survival mode now as you’re expected to be a grown adult who is self sufficient. As a result, don’t spend money on anything extraneous! In fact, go ahead and sell your non-essential belongings to raise funds and simply your ability to move to wherever the job market takes you. The less things you have post graduation, the better you will feel about yourself. You’ll be amazed at the liberating feeling of being able to pack everything in a couple suitcases and relocating at a moment’s notice.

* Swallow more pride. Living back at home in your mom’s basement isn’t a shameful thing anymore. It’s become as normal as meeting someone online. In fact, some studies show that 80% of college graduates in 2011 plan to move back home with the parents. You shouldn’t be spending any more money than you have to after graduation. Setting up Job Hunt HQ at mom’s house is perfectly normal. Just don’t forget to do your laundry, make your bed, clean the house, and make sure you get out of your parent’s way!


Some of you are here because you’ve always known you’ve never wanted to work the “9-to-5” track.  Hence, this post not might matter as much.  For others, if statistics are true, some of you really want to go the traditional route but just can’t get in after college due to whatever reason and are forced unto the untemplater lifestyle. Believe it or not, there are tons of jobs out there that pay well, provide a tremendous amount of stability, and are very enjoyable.

You may not find your dream job on the first or second attempt or even know what you want to do with your life right when you graduate and that’s okay.  Every application, interview, internship, and opportunity teaches us new things and opens new doors.  Whatever your case may be, sooner or later, know that you will find an employer who values you as much as you value them. Make sure you create a plan of attack, and regularly follow up with your contacts and submissions. You can’t just let things come to you. You’ve got to be focused in the pursuit of for employment. It’s those who stay relentless who succeed!

Readers, how’s the job market for recent college graduates?  Do people quit jobs they love?  Have you been forced into the life of entrepreneurship out of choice or freewill?  Any other tips you have?



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Sam is the founder of Financial Samurai, America's fastest growing personal finance site. We believe in reaching financial independence sooner, rather than later. Slice through money's mysteries!


  1. Sydney says

    Great tips Sam! I didn’t have a job when I graduated and it really was a scary, sinking feeling. I scanned my resume repeatedly for hours making sure it didn’t have any typos wondering if one little goof had landed my resume in the reject pile. It took me several months but I finally found work and hung onto that job tightly with both hands after I got it. :) Even though it was painful each time I was rejected during my months of searching I learned a lot about a range of companies and got some good interview practice.

  2. says

    Sounds like good advice to me! Unfortunately for those grads, they’ll find out the hard way that their degree got them a job that sucks. :) After a few years grinding away, they’ll be looking for an out like everyone else. The smart ones will become entrepreneurs… the lame will be chained to the desk for eternity. Mwhahahaha.

    • says

      Adam, tell us more about this entrepreneurial life you live. What if you had found your job enjoyable, and instead of being let go in 2009, you got promoted instead. How would your outlook on the “9 to 5” lifestyle change?

      Share with us what are some of the ways you plan to make money on your new journey, as perhaps I’ll some day join you. Thx!


      • says

        Well, my saying is that “everyone needs their own scheme”. That basically means escaping the ratrace is not a one size fits all type of affair. Everyone needs to come up with their own idea and own way of doing things based on their personality, skills, background etc. Me, I’m quite financially conservative and didn’t want to simply give up a stable income to give something unknown a shot. So I put a plan in place some years ago to reach a certain level of financial independence so that supplementary income wouldn’t have to be 100% of my total income. Now I cruise around picking up bits and pieces of work here and there and it’s great.

        As for being sustainable. I think so, as long as I don’t have kids and don’t settle down to a traditional lifestyle. I will forever need to live in sharehouses, mind people houses or live in Asia. Otherwise I will burn through too much cash.

        The time may come when I will want to settle down and have kids. When that time comes, I will have to come up with more ideas to ensure I don’t fall into the ratrace. In the meantime, I’m having a great time!

        • says

          Sounds good to me Adam. It seems like the internet and social media space is full of side gigs here and there where one can make a living. I’ve thought about doing some consulting on the side if and when I retire from my day job.

          One of the things I wonder post the 2008-2009 downturn, is that what if people never went through it, and didn’t get fired left and right, would they still hate the 9-to-5 as much? We should all have the responsibility of finding the job we really enjoy doing.

          The family aspect really is the big one it seems for travelers. Enjoy the adventure until then!

  3. says

    Great advice Sam! That reminds me I should polish the resume. Good reminder to not stay complacent. You never know what will happen. Being prepared and nimble will be handy in an emergency.

  4. youngandthrifty says

    Excellent tips Sam (as always). LinkedIn is pretty good for networking and keeping your online profile available so people can hire you.

    I think that networking is a huge aspect of being able to find a job after graduating.

    • says

      It’s funny that now LinkedIn is public, there’s just that many more confident folks out in SF. Zynga is next. Millionaires are getting minted by the hundreds here this year!

  5. Financial Success for Young Adults says

    These are exactly the tips I used when searching for my job right out of college. Now if only I could make my way out of the basement…

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