Ten Tips for Unemployed College Graduates

College graduates are facing the worst unemployment market in a decade. Today’s grads find themselves competing for entry-level jobs against laid-off workers with M.B.A.s and years of experience. Plus, war jitters have kept economic recovery from moving into it’s natural next phase. Yet with a little tenacity, college grads can keep their career goals on track and their emotional equilibrium in tact.

1.) Get Help. Whether you pay a personal career coach or you have a role model you admire who is willing to work with you, it is useful to have objective advice as you continue your job search and build your professional skills.

2.) Work as an intern. If there is a company or field in which you ultimately want to work, apply for an internship. Getting your foot in the door and proving what you can do can often land you full time employment after a few months.

3.) Use on-line resources. There are many on-line resources, like Monster.com, which provide job leads and expert advice to help you weigh the pros and cons of job options. If you are interested in working for a specific company, do online research about that company and follow the business decisions being make online and in the newspapers. Continue to look up job opportunities on their web site.

4.) Develop a Supportive Cadre of Friends. Thousands of college graduates are unemployed right now. Take the time to cultivate friendships with people who are positive and up beat despite the challenges in the economy. These people will make the most of this opportunity, and they will give you encouragement when you need it.

5.) Take a Leadership Role in a Volunteer Organization. If you aren’t the leader you have always wanted to be, change that now. Join a volunteer or non-profit organization and volunteer to do something significant to make a difference. You can parlay this experience to your advantage when the economy turns around.

6.) Keep Expenses to a Minimum. While you are working two jobs, one of which may be non-paying, keep your costs down. Be creative with how you can save money. Cook at home and entertain yourself on less.

7.) Network. Meet as many people as you can who may be able to help you in the job search—friends, neighbors, grandparents and anyone else you may meet. Ask crucial questions and enlist their help and advice on the job search.

8.) Interview. Call the company or business where you would like to work and ask if you can interview someone with your dream job. Ask that person relevant questions about how they got started and what are the pros and cons of their job. These people will often be flattered that YOU want to spend time interviewing THEM out of respect, and can therefore be very helpful and perhaps give you some connections or people to contact. Again, this is NETWORKING!

9.) Continue to Learn. Employers value employees who are self-directed learners. So be aware of current events and know your industry by reading trade publications. Be disciplined about keeping your learning alive, especially after you have graduated.

10.) Keep the Faith. The economy will turn around. Until that happens, keep upgrading your skills even if you are not in your dream job. Have a resilient attitude and ask yourself what the lessons are in this time period. If you can answer that in some future interview, your prospective employer will know that you create opportunities no matter how tough the situation.

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