If you just graduated college without a job lined up, you're in good company. But as stressful as that situation might be, here's some news that should cheer you up: An estimated 80% of employers plan to hire recent college graduates this year, according to a new CareerBuilder survey.

Here's some more positive news: Almost half of employers anticipate paying their recent grad hires more money this year than in years past. Here's how the numbers break down:

Starting Salary

Percentage of Employers Paying It

Under $30,000


$30,000 to under $40,000


$40,000 to under $50,000


$50,000 or more



Of course, you'll probably be more satisfied with a job paying $50,000 or more than one with a significantly lower salary. So, how do you increase your odds of getting the sort of offer you're after? Here are a few must-dos to tackle.

Young woman smiling while reading a document


1. Have a strong resume

Your resume, possibly more so than any other factor, will dictate whether you get your foot in the door for an interview, so if you want to increase your chances of landing a stellar offer, make sure that document is solid. For one thing, keep it consistent from a stylistic standpoint. Stick to the same font throughout, and if you bold previous job titles in one area, do so in others.

Furthermore, load up on action verbs to give prospective employers a sense of the things you actively did. Words like "managed," "directed," and "supervised" really go a long way. Additionally, resist the urge to stuff your resume with fluff. Employers only expect so much of a work history when you're first starting out after college, so don't feel compelled to list every single babysitting gig you had since you were 15 (unless, of course, you're applying to work at a child care center, in which case, go for it).

Finally, make sure your resume is devoid of grammatical errors. Keep in mind that a spell-check program may not do the trick, so recruit a friend or family member to proofread your resume before sending it out.

2. Craft a compelling cover letter

In addition to your resume, the cover letters you send out will heavily determine whether you land interviews or not. A good cover letter is one that's loaded with personality, so don't just submit a cookie-cutter note and hope it'll work. Rather, delve into the things you bring to the table, and why you're so excited at the thought of working for each employer you apply to.

In addition to conveying your passion, be sure your cover letter is grammatically clean. Again, enlisting the help of a proofreader other than yourself will go a long way, so don't be shy about asking for assistance.

3. Brush up on your interview skills

Perfecting your resume and cover letter will increase your chances of getting interviews for the jobs you want. But you'll still need to rock those interviews for a shot at an offer. To that end, read up on the most common interview questions out there, and prepare some answers so you're not caught off guard. But don't let those responses come off as too rehearsed, either -- you want to give the impression that you're able to think on the fly.

Another pivotal thing to do is research each company you apply to before going in for a live meeting. Learn about every employer's history, product or service line, and industry. Making a modest effort in this regard could go a long way, as it sends the message that you're serious about getting hired.

Finally, it never hurts to do a couple of mock interviews to prepare yourself for the real deal. If you're working with a recruiter, he or she may be willing to do this with you. Otherwise, ask a family member or friend to step in. The key is to get comfortable with that back and forth so you're less nervous when your real interviews are actually happening.

If you're busting onto the job search scene with a brand-new degree, your chances of getting hired are pretty decent from the get-go. Take the aforementioned steps, and if all goes well, you'll soon be on your way to landing an offer and collecting a salary that makes that degree worth it.