Career Advice for Job Seekers

How to get more out of your job search as a first-generation college graduate

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels
Sean Kelly
November 8, 2022


Being a first-generation college graduate is an incredible accomplishment that is nothing short of life-changing. For some first-gen college grads, their circumstances might be that their parents immigrated from other countries and weren’t able to get a degree. For others, financial circumstances may have prevented their parents from going to college. Whatever the reason, obtaining a degree undoubtedly sets you up for success in your field of choice. It can sometimes be hard, though, to figure out what your next steps are if you don’t have a network around you.

Getting more out of your job search as a first-generation college graduate

Navigating the job search process is the biggest hurdle, but it is doable. One of the most important things you should do is immediately start networking. Connect with people in your field of interest on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, and generally just try to find ways to put yourself out there with as many people as possible. Conferences and events in your industry are great chances to meet new people and put your face out there as well, so subscribe to newsletters and industry websites to make sure you’re up to date on what’s happening.

Another great way of navigating the job search as a first-gen college grad is by leaning on your professors and advisors for help. Job searching isn’t just about looking for jobs online and applying; it’s also about getting connections to openings through anyone and everyone you can. Of course, networking in your industry is part of that, but it can sometimes be even more beneficial to build a network through connections you already have. Advisors and teachers are great people to know, especially if they can vouch for your potential and the depth of your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask them to write recommendation letters and make phone calls. You’d be surprised at just how far this can go.

Another great way to get ahead in the job search is by putting your story out there. Talk about the fact that you’re a first-gen college grad in your cover letter or resume, and make sure you impart that it’s something you’re proud of and excited about. Wearing this proudly is a way to show potential employers that you’re motivated, confident, and proud of your accomplishments. If you decide to put it in your cover letter, try talking about the circumstances that led you to your college career, and don’t be afraid to be personal in how you express it. Your story should aim to inspire. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your story, that’s okay! But if it’s something you’re open to including, it can certainly be helpful.

You might feel like getting a job as a first-gen graduate is an overwhelming prospect, but in reality, if you’re a motivated and hard-working individual who cares about advancing in their career, there’s no doubt that you’ll find the opportunity that’s right for you. Always try to be confident and forward in your search, and you’ll find the perfect job before you know it.

— Article by Sean Kelly. In addition to being an analyst researching the latest industry trends for College Recruiter, Sean Kelly also co-founded a nonprofit local news publication in Savannah, GA called The Savannahian.

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