Guide to “Adulting”: Entering the Workforce and Professional Transition After Graduation

Navigating the adult world the first year after college poses unique challenges. Getting a degree can lead to excellent opportunities. However, many young people believe that success is immediate upon graduation. While many can make the transition smoothly, others will need some time to find their place in the world and start establishing a successful career.

According to a 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review, many high school students and their parents do not focus on key activities to engage in while attending college. Every single decision, however, plays an important role in one’s future. Choosing the right major, securing quality internships, and even deciding on the best extracurricular activities can all improve a graduate’s prospects.

Overall, hiring is on the rise, which is great for helping recent college graduates find employment. Employers, however, have both raised their expectations of incoming employees and become less involved in training. These two challenges could stand in the way of getting hired immediately after graduating.

Entering the workforce and making a professional transition depends on personal effort and determination. To make rapid progress after graduation, knowing how to communicate effectively and pursue additional qualifications can be paramount.

Dealing with the Inability to Find Work Immediately

A failure to get hired immediately after graduation can be both frustrating and demotivating. Understanding the reasons behind the inability to find a job and coming up with a tailored strategy for addressing these issues can quickly turn the situation around.

Moving Careers Forward

A proactive approach is needed to change one’s future, suggests Motivation Madness. To move a career forward shortly before or immediately after graduation, a few things will need to happen. Setting the right goals and getting a better idea about what it will take to pursue them is the first part of the process.

  • Tips for Moving A Career Forward: Determining the specifics of a good job, understanding employer requirements, and adjusting job applications to address those requirements, can increase the likelihood of moving forward and getting hired, according to six tips from U.S. News & World Report.
  • Being Realistic: Be open to learning some hard truths. Everybody wants to pursue their dreams but, realistically speaking, this isn’t always possible. Instead, a practical approach that’s based on experience could deliver much better results, recommends a 2017 article in Fortune.
  • Testing Personal Adaptability: A 2016 article published in Business Insider suggests that moving on to the next thing instead of holding on to the past or a dream will also determine just how fast a college graduate can adapt to current realities and find a suitable job.

Effective Professional Communication in a Digital Age

Digital communication and social media have a massive impact on the hiring process these days, which makes social media and digital etiquette important parts of the “adulting” process.

  • Social Media Connections: Job search and employment advice site The Muse reports that in a survey of recruiters, 94 percent use or plan to use social media in the hiring process. Of those same recruiters, 78 percent report that they have hired someone they’ve found via a social network. The report also finds that professional communication and presenting skills rank among the essentials for getting noticed.
  • Social Media Expertise Trumps Experience: A 2018 article in Business News Daily reports that effective social media use can increase an employment candidate’s ability to get noticed, even when professional experience is minimal.
  • Get LinkedIn: According to this Forbes article, LinkedIn can benefit both high school and college students, and it is best to create a profile before graduation.
  • Always Follow Up: Whether a student has attended a job fair and found a potential opportunity there or had an interview, this article from The Balance Careers says that following up is one of the keys to discovering new opportunities.


Setting Realistic Expectations

For many, stepping into the real world after university is a complete wake-up call. Expectations which may have been cemented during school years may no longer be applicable in the modern market. The best thing to do is to set realistic expectations which match reality.

  • Know What Each Degree Equates to In Reality: Multiple studies suggest that college graduates do not have realistic expectations as far as professional opportunities and salaries are concerned. An informative 2018 article by The Balance Careers recommends that graduates who know what they are entitled to on the basis of their degree and experience can prevent disappointment and make it easier to pinpoint the best career paths.
  • Cultivate a Realistic World View: Managing expectations can be difficult for a young and inexperienced person, but strategies do exist. A 2017 article published by Psych Central reports that having a more realistic view of the real world is imperative for navigating through multiple challenges and overcoming disappointments. Understanding the current market situation is also essential for managing expectations. Many college students fail to pursue the right opportunities because their views on available careers are too optimistic.
  • Anticipate Challenges and Prepare for Them: Anticipating challenges can make addressing them easier. Some of the most important hurdles that college graduates will struggle with include lack of practical professional experience, insufficient knowledge of the recruitment process, poor interview skills, and failing to focus on choosing a career path, according to a 2016 article published by Recruiter.

Crafting a Long-Term Strategy for the Future

The ultimate goal for recent graduates should be to craft a long-term strategy. While this can be challenging, a little work and strategic planning can deliver excellent results.

  • Wait for Mr. Right Job: According to a CNBC 2018 report, it is not a good idea to automatically accept the first offer that comes along. Waiting for the right first job can set a young professional on the path of success.
  • Develop Long-Term Strategies: Focusing on long-term professional growth is also very important and a much better idea than settling for short-term career satisfaction, notes the Houston Chronicle.
  • Start Early to Get Ahead: Starting the planning process early enough is also imperative. Lifehack recommends that it may even be a good idea to determine some objectives while still in high school.

Getting started with adult life is all about being prepared, knowing what to pursue, and figuring out how to best pursue it. For many, it isn’t going to be smooth sailing. Compromises and sacrifices will have to be made for the purpose of accomplishing a major life or career goal. Knowing what’s most important, however, will keep the end goal in focus. Eventually, a college graduate has the potential to obtain enough experience to build a professional network, bringing the possibility of a dream career ever closer.