45% of 2020 College Graduates Are Still Looking for Work. Do These 4 Things if You're One of Them

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 13, 2021

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A female college graduate holding her diploma and looking serious.

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Desperate to get a job? Here are some tips to navigate this tough market.

Entering the workforce as a recent college grad can be challenging in the best of times. But during a pandemic and economic crisis, it can be exceptionally difficult. It's not surprising, then, to learn that 45% of people from the class of 2020 are still looking for work, according to a recent survey by Monster.

What's more, a new wave of entry-level job applicants is apt to hit the market this spring once they graduate college. That will up the competition and make things even more difficult for frustrated job-seekers who've already been at it for a year.

Another issue is that recent college graduates are not eligible for unemployment benefits unless they worked in some capacity during their studies. In that case, they may be eligible for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. As such, a lot of 2020 graduates currently can't earn a living and are depleting their savings or racking up debt just to cover their bills. If you've landed in this unfortunate boat, here are a few moves to consider making.

1. Network a lot

Searching through job sites and applying to open positions is a good use of your time. But so is networking. Reach out to the people you know and ask for help finding a job, and don't be shy. Don't hesitate to contact friends, distant relatives, neighbors, old colleagues from a part-time job, or former professors -- even classmates you didn't know well but shared your major. You never know when a simple conversation could produce a job lead, so be sure to put yourself out there.

2. Accept a role that's far from your dream job

In today's economy, you may need to lower your standards to snag a paycheck. It's not ideal, but if you're drowning in bills, you may need to accept a job that you're overqualified for to earn some money. Remember, you can always look for a better job while you're employed, but at least you'll have an income to fall back on.

3. String together a series of gigs

If a full-time job with benefits continues to elude you, your next best bet may be to piece together an income by taking on a few gigs. Sign up to walk dogs, drive for a rideshare company, and work some telemarketing shifts from home a couple of nights a week. You may not make the same amount of money you would at a full-time job, but at least you'll earn something while you continue your search.

4. Volunteer

Volunteering is a good way to occupy your time while you're out of work, and it's also a good thing to put on your resume. Plus, you never know what opportunities might arise from your volunteer work. So find an organization with a mission you value and give up part of your week to help others -- while making sure to carve out plenty of time for your job search.

In today's economy, finding work can be difficult, especially at a time when new unemployment claims are rolling in by the hundreds of thousands. But try to maintain a positive attitude. As things improve on the pandemic front, the economy should recover and jobs should open up. You may need to make some near-term sacrifices, like taking a job you don't want, to get through this rough patch, but take comfort in the fact that things are likely to get easier in time.

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