Last Updated: Jul 21, 2014
The economy has been in the tank for a few years now, so it’s no wonder that the recent graduating class has a few challenges to deal with when it comes to finding a job. Gone are the days in which eager recruiters showed up on campus with high-salary offers in hand. Today, most graduates must hustle and find ways to stand out, or be willing to take positions that might not be their ideal but that will ultimately help them gain experience or a foot in the door.
Don't get discouraged
The most important thing for young job seekers is to try not to feel discouraged because of the stingy job market. Sometimes, the stats can be scary, but there are opportunities out there if you’re willing to do some digging or take an alternate path to get there. And don’t think this phenomenon only applies to liberal arts or business majors. Even those with highly specialized degrees like information systems and architecture are finding it tough to get hired. Overall, 7.9% of recent grads are currently unemployed, while 36.7% are working in fields unrelated to their major. Add to that the average $29,400 in student loan debt that they must begin paying back, and it makes for a serious situation.
Play up your skills and strengths
Don’t worry. With the right skill set, a great attitude, and that coveted degree—which still puts you ahead of other unemployed folks—your next job offer might be closer than you think. According to a survey of the hottest skills that employers are seeking, if you know something about social media marketing, mobile development, and cloud and distributed computing, you should be shouting it from the rooftops. Don’t know much in those areas? Then illustrate those all-important “soft skills” that employers say are hard to come by but highly coveted, like leadership and the ability to communicate well.
Of course, looking great on paper isn’t enough. You’ve got to get yourself out there and chat up your network—in other words, everyone you know—because referrals, connections, and leads on unpublicized openings are how the majority of people find jobs. One survey found that 66% of M.B.A. employers said they found their new talent from employee referrals, and 53% found potential hires at networking events. LinkedIn is also a key way to expand your reach, so spend some time perfecting your profile, connecting with industry people, and joining professional groups.