Productive Options for the Unemployed Grad

unemployed gradSo you did it—you’ve finally finished your undergrad degree and have put college behind you. You’re all moved out of the dorms and the campus is in your rearview mirror—only this didn’t just happen. That was over a year ago, and any post-college, new-grad excitement has definitely worn off as company after company has rejected or ignored your eager job applications.

Phrases like “under-qualified” “needs experience” and “better-suited” whirl around your head as you begin to write yet another cover letter. What gives? Wasn’t all that tuition you paid supposed to be worth something more than rejection? With America’s unemployment rate currently just over 8%, it’s clear that job availability is a national issue awaiting grads when they leave the classroom. However, before you get too despondent and down on yourself, there are things you can do between editing resumes and scouring job boards to help your chances of finding that dream job—or any job for that matter.

Attend a Career Mixer

Now, I’m not talking about one of your college’s weekly “new alumni” mixers. In my experience, those usually aren’t too effective as the range of majors and professionals is so large it’s hard to make any productive networking progress. Rather, you should aim to find one that is exclusive to your specific field. These may be a bit harder to find and can be few and far between, but often times they are advertised in the same places you job search. Job boards and staffing agencies are good about promoting relevant networking events such as these. Even if you are unsure of what to expect, you can always pop in for a bit to see what it’s like. It might not be for you, but it never hurts to try.

Take Advantage of Workshops, Seminars and Conferences

Just like the career mixers, job boards and other industry-relevant websites will occasionally post ads for upcoming professional development opportunities such as workshops, seminars, conferences and other options for furthering your understanding of the industry. A lot of times, recent grads and others currently unemployed are too preoccupied with job searching than to give these a second look, but that is a huge mistake. Granted your selection may be limited due to expenses and location, but that just means you should make the most of the ones you can attend.

Although some may be geared to a specific sector of your industry, the majority of these are open to anyone and many of the participants and organizers encourage entry-level individuals to attend and mingle. Just like senior members of a sorority or fraternity, established employers and professionals are anxious to meet the aspiring crop that will keep the legacy going. Just be prepared to bring you’re a-game so as to not discourage them of your ability to keep the specific market or business going for generations to come.

If you’re worried your current unemployed status will reflect poorly on your abilities, remember everyone is aware of the current state of the economy. Chances are their own companies have had to undergo budget cuts and lay-offs so they know what you are up against. Plus, bravely mingling amongst your superiors and people you could possibly be working alongside soon shows initiative which is a very attractive quality for a job-seeker. Recognizing that you are a self-starter, employers will likely remember you over other candidates when an opening arises.

Career Fairs Aren’t Just For Seniors

After I graduated, I still had many friends in college. One day, while doing the usual application process, I got a text from a friend asking why I wasn’t at the career far on campus. Confused I looked into it and realized it was open to ANYONE from current students, to recent grads, and even people not affiliated with the university.

This was quite the eye-opener for me, as I always assumed if it’s on campus and it’s a career fair graduates need not apply. Sure, some of them are for specific demographics such as current college juniors or seniors, but a great number of them are open to several groups. Now, I regularly check for career fairs near me and I make sure to utilize all the services that come with my alumni membership—a worthy investment for any grad I’d say.

Give Yourself a Break

Sure, you may be unemployed and unsure of your immediate future, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend every waking hour of your day job searching. People with jobs don’t spend every minute of their day working (at least the sane ones don’t), so there’s nothing wrong with taking a break to hang out with friends or enjoy a night out. As long as you keep your eye on the prize and stay honest with yourself that you are doing everything in your ability to make it happen, you’ll be just fine.

About the Author:

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses and welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

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