We hear it constantly on the news: recent college graduates are having a hard time finding work (especially related to their degree). It can be incredibly frustrating to be stuck in that position. The job market, already very competitive, is sometimes unforgiving for 20-somethings with undergraduate diplomas. If you’re thinking to yourself, “How can I get out of this situation?” you’re not alone. The good news is there are ways to cope, and hopefully get out of the rut and onto your dream career track. In the meantime, here are five things to remember when facing a career crisis.

1. Don’t ever oversell yourself.

It’s tempting to mention a few skills or experiences you don’t actually have in order to land a dream job. However, that’s certainly going to come back to bite you. Your skill-set is unique, so use it to your advantage, rather than promising things you can’t deliver. No job is worth the risk. And if your dream job requires something you don’t have, consider taking a class or workshop on the topic. It’s possible you might need to be more open to things like that if you want to keep your skills fresh and relevant. New technologies and breakthroughs are happening every day, so keep up with the information in your field. But don’t ever tell them you’re caught up when you’re not at all.

2. Be realistic.

You have to recognize you might not get the job you want right away. In some cases, you’ll need to work your way up the ladder. In others, you’ll find yourself in a completely different job. It’s important to recognize these possibilities and be prepared to accept them. Having unrealistic expectations for your career after college is only going to set you up for disappointment. However, be sure to remember the line between realistic expectations and pessimism. Be careful that you don’t fall victim to too much disappointment.

3. Be grateful.

Okay, so you’re stuck in a job that isn’t exactly what you envisioned when you entered the real world. That might not be ideal, but it’s important to remember others aren’t so fortunate. Be grateful that you have work, that you even have a college degree, and that you’re still dreaming. See everything as an opportunity to better yourself and make connections. Employers are impressed by people who worked hard despite a difficult situation. It shows responsibility and initiative.

4. Remember your long-term goals.

Just because you’re in a less than ideal situation now, it doesn’t mean you won’t get out of it. Never lose track of your career aspirations. Your goals will guide you through your career crisis, and you might just end up getting to your perfect job. Keep in mind there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s important to use your goals as a way to make the most of the situation while maintaining hope that you’ll eventually land your perfect job.

5. Don’t give up.

Don’t let your skills become rusty. Don’t stop looking for the job you want. Don’t stop sending applications. Don’t stop networking. Don’t stop believing that someday you’ll have the career of your dreams. Don’t fall into the routine of being disappointed. Don’t let this get you down. Always remember what you want and never stop reaching for it. You’re not alone in your career crisis. So many people before you have been in this same situation, and many of them have found ways into jobs they loved. And if that isn’t enough inspiration to get you through your crisis, remember that Madonna used to work at a Dunkin’ Donuts. And now she’s, well… Madonna.

Featured photo credit: University of Denver via flickr.com

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