If you're a recent or soon-to-be college grad, you're likely experiencing a mix of emotions. Without a doubt, you're happy to have your degree. However, you're also stuck within a less than straightforward transition. Unless you're one of the few with a job lined up, you've gone from student to unemployed overnight. As you complete your job search, you're surrounded by horror stories of social media privacy and a persistently weak economy. After submitting your 100th job application with no interview, you wonder whether your college experience was worth the money.
What's an intelligent and hardworking college grad to do? The answer is simple. Embrace the creativity that you've learned in school, and be innovative. Today's job market is competitive, so you need to outsmart the status quo.
Enhance Your Web Presence
For recruiters and hiring managers, social media is becoming an increasingly important hiring tool. Your gut reaction may be to implement every possible privacy standard, remove all photos of yourself and become an online media hermit. Don't do it.
Instead, use social media to your advantage and market yourself as a talented professional. Show that you have a personality and life beyond your job. LinkedIn, personal websites, blogs, Twitter, Quora and Facebook are great places to start. Just make sure that you're sharing and presenting information in a context-specific way. In other words, don't bombard your LinkedIn feed with photos of last weekend's party.
SEE: Tweet Your Way To A Sweet Job
Consider Something Entrepreneurial
It takes time to find the right job. There's even a saying that looking for a job is a full-time job itself. Fortunately, that statement is just plain wrong. There's plenty to do while you're unemployed, and some of these endeavors will make you more marketable. The job hunt takes effort, but it won't take all of your time. While you're hunting for opportunities, try to pursue your own venture in a field or hobby that you enjoy. Whether you're pet-sitting, jewelry-making, writing or building websites, strive to build an entrepreneurial foundation in something that makes you happy. You never know what your venture might become.
SEE: TUTORIAL: Starting A Small Business
Look in Emerging Industries
It's likely that your school's recruiting liaison has strong ties with established companies, but what happens if you're not a fit for the positions through your career center? While it's definitely worthwhile to take advantage of your school's job placement programs, you should also venture beyond them. Look for companies and industries that are just getting off the ground. They're looking for talent, but may not yet be large enough to have established ties with campus career centers.
SEE: Hot, High-Paying Career Sectors
At all experience levels, companies want people with a couple of specialties. Investigate ones that are good fits with your background and interests, and devote your attention there. Beyond enhancing your marketability, you'll have an easier time with your career search by knowing what keywords, expressions and networking platforms to pinpoint. If you're looking for anything and everything, you'll be spread thin.
SEE: Top Job-Search Mistakes For Finance Grads
Spend Time Networking
Even though you're young, your network is more robust than you think. Don't be afraid to attend meet-ups and events in industries that appeal to you. Of course, you should be tactful about your intention to find a job, but have fun. It's unlikely that somebody will give you a job on the spot, but you might meet someone who has a great lead towards a great entry-level position. If you can find a career fair in your area, you should definitely attend it. Just have fun and talk to recruiters, even if the companies or open positions aren't exact fits for you.
SEE: 3 Ways To Attract Job Opportunities
Take Time off
You definitely deserve a break, and if you can afford to do so, take some time to travel and spend time with friends and family. Once you start working, you'll commit yourself to an extremely structured schedule. Still, a healthy dose of fun can easily deteriorate into wanderlust and listlessness. Keep yourself on a job hunting schedule and follow some sort of plan. If you keep doing nothing, you'll look less and less attractive to employers. Plus, you'll miss out on the opportunity to continue building your income and long-term financial health.
Your first years of working will fly by. Soon enough, you'll have opportunities to travel again. Plus, if you get into good habits of budgeting, you'll have money to spend. Enjoy the moment, but prioritize the future. Harmless procrastination can easily balloon into professional and financial pain down the road.
College graduation is a scary but exciting time. In any case, don't let the negatives override the positives. In school, you've learned to be a creative, intelligent individual. Now, it's time to translate those skills into something else. Approach the tough situations with confidence.
SEE: How To Remain Positive In A Job Search
The Bottom Line
The road to finding a great job immediately after graduation is not easy. With patience, an entrepreneurial mind and a positive attitude, recent grads could find themselves in their desired work environments.