Being fresh out of school and unemployed is one of the toughest times in one’s life. As if having to deal with student loans was not enough, the graduates also have to start fighting for a job. And the thing that could make this even harder is having the wrong diploma. For this same reason many students research the job market before choosing a major, a staggering 82% of them, in fact.

Moreover, many students are encouraged to go for a STEM degree, believing that this will make it easier for them to find a job, according to the Accenture Strategy 2015 US College Graduate Employment Study. It seems as though the newer generations are thinking in a practical and long-term way, because many of them could end up jobless if not careful.

Unfortunately, this is the cruel reality, but with a little bit of hard work, willingness to push on, and some creativity, these young 20-somethings could find employment sooner than they expect. Here are a few strategies that could help recent graduates jumpstart their careers.

1. Set up a LinkedIn account and mind your manners on other social media websites

The first thing you should do, if you want a job, is make a quality resume. It should serve as an effective selling pitch for your skills, education, and experience. When an employer looks at it, they should want to call you based only on that piece of paper. However, as well as having the physical resume, you should make an online one by setting up a LinkedIn account.

Be wary, as this is a strictly professional platform. People use it to find employment, recruiters use it to find employees and serious entrepreneurs use it to make business connections. It is a great way to connect and build a strong professional network you could use in the future. Nevertheless, before setting up, learn all about the rules and the best way to make your profile effective. (For example, by using the right keywords or writing a great summary that stands out.)

One more thing to pay attention to, when you start looking for a job, are your other social media accounts. When you apply for a job, be sure that the recruiter will look you up online. Everything connected to you will pop up in that search, so exhibiting good online etiquette is a must. Deleting your drunk photos, profanity-filled posts, and any other incriminating thing would be a great idea.

2. Start freelancing to get used to working and earn some initial money

Freelancer on laptop

While you are job hunting, try working as a freelancer to get a sense of the work ethic. However, if you are good at it, with time, it could turn into something bigger and better. Perhaps, you’ll continue freelancing even when you are employed full-time.

Being unemployed means being broke. So, doing freelance work gives you the opportunity to earn at least some money. It may not be much at first, but at least you won’t be completely penniless. And if you decide to try it out, there are many websites where you could find clients and offer your services.

3. Prepare a tailored resume for each job you apply to

This is important to mention because many people do not understand the process of making a resume and a cover letter. You should create an all-encompassing “master resume” with all the information about your formal education, courses you’ve taken, skills, hobbies, volunteering experience, the works. When you start applying for multiple jobs, tailor the CV to the job in question using the “master resume” as a starting point.

Every work position is different, so every job application should be different, too. Also, if you are obliged to send a cover letter, write a new one each time. Do not send the same cover letter. Having a bad, non-updated resume, leaves a bad impression of you. It means that you are too lazy to make an effort, or that you are not familiar with the general rules of job hunting.

4. Start reading books on business, body language, human dynamics and negotiation

Staying educated after college is a must. When someone says educated, it means being up to date with current events, changes in the industry you want to work in, business news or how companies operate nowadays. You find information on all of this by browsing the internet or reading books. You should read about the business world to learn how things really work, and what it takes to get ahead.

For example, working 9-5 was once the norm, but today more and more companies are starting to cut down on the working hours and switching to 6-hour work days. Also, a lot of companies now have open-space offices, instead of those little cubicles.

Another good topic to read on is body language and how humans interact with each other. Understanding human psychology would benefit you greatly. It could help you understand the behavior of the people around you, and allow you to effectively resolve conflicts and tailor your approach to different personality types.

Additionally, you would learn how to easily communicate with others in general, without losing your temper or failing to get your point across. Good manners, confident body language, a positive attitude and a few strategic sentences here and there can often get you further in your career than sitting quietly in the corner and churning out reports, hoping that your hard work will get noticed.

5. Expand your technology-related skill sets

Technology and science

Having the right qualifications and being a people person are important important in business, but you also need to be familiar with the latest technology. And I’m not just talking about knowing how to effectively use the MS Office Suit and having professional-looking social media profiles – you need to master the type of software used in your industry, have some basic computer maintenance skills, have working knowledge of popular cloud-based services, be familiar with some of the latest tech gadgets and so on.

After you master those basic technology skills, you should work on more complicated ones. For example, learn HTML, Java or WordPress. Dabble in Photoshop and video editing or learn about digital marketing. Luckily, there are many options to choose from, from easy to difficult ones. Whatever you settle for, it will be useful because computer literacy is as important as anything else.

6. Think about long-term progress

When you start browsing for jobs and building your career, it is important to think long-term. Think about the future and where you would like your career to go. For example, would you want to spend your whole life in an office or do you want to have more freedom? Do you want to work in only one industry or have mixed types of jobs?

Consider the risk of locking yourself down in one place without the ability to change anything. The best thing you could do is build a skill set that could be used in several similar jobs. This way you would progress without any difficulties, and switching jobs would be easier, too.

There is a lot more to learn about building a career, and how life works in general, but once you’ve got these tips covered, you can learn all the other big stuff through personal experience. Just be sure to work on improving yourself every single day, and be persistent in your job-hunting efforts.

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