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School's Out! Now What? 10 Tips for the Recently Graduated and Unemployed

You've just graduated from college or university, and you're ready to brave the working world—congratulations! Entering this new phase of your life is exciting, but you may find yourself asking: now what? As a recent graduate, it's easy to think that you deserve a job straight out of school, and maybe you do, but things don't always work the way we want them to, and often the job hunt is longer—and more frustrating—than we expect.

If you're a recent graduate and unemployed, then this article's for you. The experts at know how difficult it can be to land your first post-grad job (I've been there myself!), but with hard work, determination, and a realistic outlook on what post-grad life is really like, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to embrace this new chapter and land a worthwhile job.

1. Pursue as many options as you can.

The more jobs you apply for after graduation, the greater your odds will be of actually landing one (pretty obvious, I know). You'll quickly realize just how many jobs you need to apply for before hearing anything back. I know you want your dream job right now, but you might not get it right away, so it's important to keep your options open and pursue whatever you can. You'll be much more likely to land a job and make connections, and you never know whom you'll meet or where you'll end up as a result of your efforts. Being assertive in your pursuit will also increase your resilience, which will make you a stronger person and a better job hunter.

2. Let go of your sense of entitlement.

You've worked hard to finish your degree, so it makes sense that you feel entitled to a good job right away. You've put lots of time, money, and energy into earning your degree, but it's important to be humble and realistic—and to realize that you're one of many in the exact same boat. Having a degree doesn't guarantee a job of a certain caliber, and you have to start somewhere. It's better to be "underemployed" than to have no job at all. Take it one step at a time, take the opportunities you are given, and keep pursuing your ultimate goal.

3. Volunteer.


Volunteering is a great way to give back, be productive with your time, and network. Whether or not you find a volunteering position in your field, now is a great time to volunteer with an organization whose cause you support. Not only will this look good on your resume, it will also teach you valuable skills and get you in touch with a variety of people you might not have met otherwise.

4. Defer your student loans.

Since you're a recent graduate, you likely have school debt that you will need to repay at some point. However, a benefit of being un- or underemployed is that you'll be able to defer your loans. Deferring them means you don't have to worry about paying anything back until you're able to, which takes a lot of the financial pressure off your shoulders. Just make sure to stay on top of it and continue looking for work in the meantime.

5. Don't get discouraged.

Never stop looking; this is key! When your job hunt has gone on for months, it's easy to get discouraged, and it's frustrating to force yourself to continue, especially when you feel like nothing is happening. However, all it takes is one job application to turn things around, so you have to keep at it. If you give up, you'll really have no chance of landing anything. New jobs pop up every day, and there are lots of tools and resources you can use to get one. Keep networking, telling people about your job search and interests, and even meeting with an employment counselor to get (and keep) you on track.

6. Don't disregard jobs that are outside your field.

As stated above, it's better to have a job than no job at all. And don't worry—you can still look for a job that better fits your education, qualifications, and interests while you're working at a less desirable one. You may have to serve coffee or bus tables, but at least you'll be filling your time, networking, making some money, and forming productive habits. As long as you're smart with your time and stick to a routine, you'll still have time to pursue other options and apply to other jobs.

7. Embrace rejection.

You may think you've found your dream job, only to get rejected. I know it doesn't seem like it, but this is a good thing. Perhaps you wouldn't have been a good fit, or the job wouldn't have turned out the way you thought it would, or a better opportunity will come up the next day. You may be job hunting for a while, so you'll need to build up a thick skin and not take rejection personally. The right job will come along, and you'll realize that getting rejected wasn't so bad after all.

8. Make time to do things that you enjoy and that make you happy.

It's important to have hobbies and make time for friends, family, and yourself! This will keep you grounded and help you realize that there are many different ways to create a fulfilling life. Whether you enjoy playing sports, running, reading, or going to concerts with friends, do your best to make time for things you enjoy. Life (and the job hunt) is about the journey as much as the destination, so make the most of the free time you have right now.

9. Keep an active routine—mentally, socially, and physically.

Keep an active routine. Just because you're unemployed doesn't mean that you can sleep in until 2:00p.m. every day and lounge around watching TV. Having a routine while you're not employed is just as important as having one when you are! Now, I'm not saying you need to wake up at 6:00 every morning to get your day started, but sticking to a schedule is imperative to helping you stay motivated and focused on your goals. This means having a regular sleep schedule, consistently eating your meals at around the same times every day, setting out daily plans, exercising, socializing, and unwinding. This last point—making time for yourself to relax and have some peace and quiet—is as important for your well-being as being social is, so don't forget to carve out some time in the day that you can call your own.

10. Stay positive, be consistent, and keep your goals at the forefront of your mind.

Being a recent graduate who is unemployed is tough, but remember that things tend to work themselves out—sometimes it just takes a little longer than we want it to. As long as you're putting in as much effort as you can and never giving up, you are bound to see results. You may not land the job you've always dreamed about straight out of school, but, as clichéd as it sounds, the path to success isn't always straight. You never know whom you'll meet along the way or how an experience working at a coffee shop could help you in three years. As long as you pursue as many options as you can, stay busy and active, carve out a daily routine, and let go of ideas about entitlement, you'll be able to enjoy this post-grad experience and embrace this new chapter of life as a recent graduate.



Image sources: Fré Sonneveld/, stokpic/, Kalliwumpe/

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