In a report by Accenture, 49 percent of 2013 and 2014 graduates consider themselves underemployed, while 52 percent reported being employed full-time. Meanwhile, a poll by Gallup shows only 11 percent of business leaders agree that college students are prepared to enter the workforce. While the news may sound bleak, it’s actually an incentive for college graduates to stand out from the crowd and empower their own careers. Take control of your future and stay flexible to opportunities for success. Here are five ways to get started.
Find the Latest Hotspots
Where you live can impact your job search success. Forbes reported that Yuma, Arizona, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Meanwhile, in 2015, Denver, Colorado, was ranked by Forbes as the No. 1 place for business and careers. The city attracts college graduates for its highly educated labor force, outdoor recreation and promising economic growth. But there’s more to relocating and starting a new life just because of a promising job market. Before you decide to pack up, check out a rental site to explore the community and cost of living.
Learn to Network
An NPR article revealed that up to 80 percent of jobs are unadvertised, yet the majority of college graduates are still looking for positions on job boards and sending out positions. Finding those open positions can feel elusive, but are within reach with the right approach. Networking is the key to long-term job success whether you’re looking for your first position or switching careers.
Attending networking events is good advice, but not the only way to connect. Remember that your college peers are part of your network and joining your alumni organization, staying in touch and helping each other are all ways to build up a viable career network. Create your own network by joining or starting a LinkedIn group and connecting with hiring departments of companies you’re interested in and touching base.
Setting career goals starts in college by continuously building your network. Write out your goals and make a commitment to add 10 or even 20 new contacts to your network every week. Next, research careers you may be interested in and identify what type of experience you need. The more clarity you have about your job goals, the more likely you are to succeed.
Find a Mentor
The Student Career Development Study showed that 37 percent of college students say their parents are their mentors, 21 percent are family or friends and only one percent are someone found in an online marketing group. But if family and friends aren’t actually working in the field of interest, a mentorship can prove ineffective.
Empower your future by finding a mentor through your alumni center, online networking groups on LinkedIn or a former employer. It’s also not unusual to have several mentors depending on your needs. One mentor may shape communication skills while another can help with landing a first internship.
Get Creative About Interning
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employment (NACE), 63 percent of paid interns got a least one job offer, and 41 percent of unpaid interns got at least one job offer. While internships are crucial to college success, they’re not always easy to land in a competitive marketplace.
Get creative about your internships and open up other avenues like part-time jobs, full-time employment over the summer or looking into shadowing programs. Consider designing your own intern-style opportunities with free work. Charlie Hoehn, entrepreneur and author of the book, “Recession Proof Graduate,” strategically offered to do free work to land a dream career and rub elbows with successful entrepreneurs. According to Andrei Zakhareuski, an ESL teacher and BusyTeacher admin, the key to finding the right opportunity lies in being in the right place at the right time. Instead of just emailing your application from your apartment, go to the person or business you’d like to work for and introduce yourself. You’re more likely to be taken seriously once you’ve given employers a face along with your name.
Remember that your success may be contingent on someone’s decisions from time to time, but is still within your control. Stay flexible, look for creative opportunities and keep the momentum of your career moving toward success.