5 Tips for New Graduates to Navigate Today's Job Market

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New to the labor force? Here's how to search for a job.

Graduating college and having to find a job for the first time can be a daunting prospect even in the best of circumstances. But right now, recent graduates may have even more of a challenge as the country continues to grapple with the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the unemployment rate has dropped substantially since peaking last April, it's still a lot higher than it was before the pandemic began. And while some industries are looking to add staff to their payroll, other industries may be hiring more conservatively or not at all until the greater economic situation improves.

If you're trying to find a job for the first time, you may feel frustrated, confused, and downright lost. Here are some tips for navigating this tricky market.

1. Focus on networking

When jobs are scarce, you need all the help you can get. So ask for it. Reach out to friends, neighbors, former college professors, and extended family. Ask people to keep an ear out for job openings. The more you network, the greater your chances of learning about opportunities.

2. Be flexible

Your first job out of college may not be your dream job. That holds true in general, but especially today, when the job market is still pretty tight. The more flexible you're willing to be, the more likely you'll be to find a role that will at least, for the time being, pay the bills and perhaps allow you to put some money into savings.

Remember, gone are the days when not staying at the same job for many years will hurt you professionally. These days, it's common to frequently switch jobs. So if you take a role you're not thrilled about, know that you're also not going to be stuck there.

3. Be willing to keep reworking your resume

Crafting a resume takes work. But once you have that resume in place, you may need to tailor it to different job applications. While it may require some extra effort, tweaking your resume to fit the job you are applying for could be your ticket to getting called in for an interview.

4. Don't be so quick to turn down part-time work

After spending several years plugging away at college, the last thing you want is to wind up underemployed. But it's a tough job market right now. If a full-time role continues to be out of reach, you may have to settle for a part-time job or a couple of part-time jobs. While working on a part-time basis may not be ideal, remember that some income is better than none at all. And also, any job you do is experience you can put on your resume, which could lead to a better job down the line.

5. Look to the gig economy

If you can't find a job in today's market, creating your own opportunities may be your next best bet. Think about the services you can offer and branch out independently. If you love animals, start a pet-sitting and dog-walking business. If you love kids, offer your services as a babysitter. Or spend your days driving for a rideshare company to earn some money until things open up and a company extends an offer. Again, the key is to get some experience and have some income coming in so your bills don't start piling up.

Graduating college in the middle of a pandemic is a rough situation to land in. But since you can't change that, your best bet is to roll with it and do the best you can. The good news is that as things improve on the coronavirus front, the job market may open up a lot in the course of the year. So do your best to maintain a positive outlook and hang in there until that happens.

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