Competitive Advantage

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Competitive Advantage

Delivering Tips, Insights and Resources for Success

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Smiling graduate son hugs his graduating parent after the ceremony

A Better Job After College: A Guide for Adult Grads

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Adults across Mississippi have returned to school to finish their degrees. Each is motivated by the goal of a better job after college, expanded opportunities, and a brighter future for their families. As a returning student, you might be wanting to break into a new field or finally land your dream job. Or maybe you want to qualify for that promotion to a higher-paying position so you and your family can enjoy more financial security. No matter your aspirations, being an adult grad with a college degree can help you get there.

But in a shifting job market, making that happen after graduation isn’t always easy, even for the most motivated returning students. You may find the job market more competitive and getting noticed downright discouraging. You might wonder if anyone reads your applications or feel nervous about interviews. But don’t worry. We’re here to coach you with some practical tips and give you some strategies to help you make a great impression on potential employers. 

Is It Hard to Find a Job After College as an Adult Graduate?

Getting a job after you return to college may sometimes feel impossible, but the math is in your favor. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate for Mississippi is 3.2%, meaning most people who want to work have jobs. 

The odds of finding a job get even better as your level of education increases. According to the BLS, here are the national unemployment rates in 2022 based on educational attainment

  • High school diploma: 4%
  • Associate degree: 2.7%
  • Bachelor’s degree: 2.0%

Of course, earning a college degree doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a better job right after securing that degree. The job search process is different for everyone and depends on many factors, such as: 

  • Location: Some areas have better job outlooks. For example, Mississippi Labor Market Data shows the unemployment rate in August 2023 was 2.9% in Union County and 14.8% in Jefferson County. Your job search will be easier if you can commute or move to an area with ample employment opportunities. 
  • Career Path: According to the BLS, some of the fastest-growing occupations of 2023 include nurse practitioners (45% growth), data scientists (35%), information security analysts (32%), and software developers (26%). Searching for jobs by degree can help you identify in-demand career paths with the most openings. 
  • Experience: Competition for quality jobs can be fierce, and employers often have high expectations, making finding a job after college challenging. A recent study by LinkedIn shows that 35% of job postings for so-called “entry-level” jobs require at least three years of relevant practical experience. 

What Is the Average Time to Get a Job After Graduation?

You’re not alone if you don’t have that new job lined up before you strut across the graduation stage. According to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only 55.3% of 2021 college graduates had full-time jobs within six months of graduation. 

Many employers also have lengthy interview processes. A 2023 study found that it takes employers an average of 57 days to fill job openings. This timeline could take even longer for companies with thorough screening processes. 

What You Need to Find the Perfect Job After College Fast

Nobody wants to spend months filling out applications, especially if you’re balancing childcare and school with your job hunt.  Read on to learn how to quickly find a job after college. 

How to Self-Promote on Your Resume

Developing a killer resume is one of the keys to getting a job out of college. This document gives potential employers a snapshot of your education and professional history. 

These tips can help you market yourself on your resume

  • Tailor your resume for each position to demonstrate how your experience and skills align with the requirements. 
  • Incorporate keywords from the job posting into your resume so applicant tracking systems identify you as a suitable candidate. 
  • Include a two- to three-sentence summary at the top of your resume highlighting relevant skills. Here’s an example: “Recent cybersecurity graduate with hands-on experience in network security and threat detection. Adept in penetration testing and encryption technologies. Ready to protect digital assets from emerging cyber threats.” 
  • Many jobs don’t require a specific degree, but it’s important to showcase skills that you are proud, particularly those transferable skills, such as your experiences working within a team, collaborating and problem-solving. 
  • Use quantitative data to demonstrate your academic and professional achievements. For instance: “Increased Nursing Student Club membership by 25%” and “Made the Dean’s List three semesters.” 

Your resume can also be a valuable networking tool. You can hand it to your employer’s human resources department, or recruiters at career fairs and share it at networking events hosted by professional organizations. 

How to Ace Your Job Interviews

For many people, a job interview is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the hiring process. Here are five strategies to help you excel during your next interview: 

  • Request an informational interview with people in similar positions to learn about potential questions you might be asked. 
  • Research the company and its mission thoroughly. 
  • Be able to provide specific examples of challenges you’ve overcome during college and previous jobs. 
  • Emphasize how you can contribute to the company and meet its needs. 
  • Prepare three or four questions to ask at the end of the interview. 

Find Better Job Opportunities as a C2C Graduate

If you left college prematurely without a degree more than two years ago from a Mississippi community college or public university, you can be eligible for the Complete 2 Compete program. 

The Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program is here to help you get on the path to finishing your degree and jumpstarting or advancing your career. And you won’t have to do it all by yourself.

Through the C2C program you are matched with a C2C Coach who will help you make the most of your earned credits. They will help you find the fastest, shortest pathway to a degree. They’ll also connect you with college specific resources designed specifically for returning adults and career counselors who can assist you with positioning yourself for best for post graduate interviews. 

Learn more about the C2C Program and access the registration survey to see if you are eligible and schedule a meeting with your assigned C2C Coach. Then visit the job resources page to learn more about how C2C can help you transform your future.

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C2C is a state program that helps Mississippi adults who previously attended college earn a degree and create a brighter future.