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Many college students and recent graduates are discovering that the job market is not necessarily a friendly palace at the moment. The economic volatility brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic has caused many companies to freeze hiring or to transition to remote employment. As job losses surged in 2020, the market also flooded with older, experienced candidates who squeezed out the opportunities for recent grads applying for entry level positions.

Thankfully, as COVID cases decline and the economy becomes more stable, job opportunities are increasing. However it can still be challenging and extremely frustrating for 20-somethings to find employment. The average college graduate searches for 3 to 6 months for a job before finding one, and in many cases they end up accepting jobs outside of their degree area.

Millennials and Generation Z in particular have high standards when it comes to selecting a company to work for. Surveys have shown that these generations don’t just want to receive a paycheck—they want to feel like their jobs are in alignment with their personal values and they are making a positive difference in the world. On top of that, as the cost of living increases, they also want to find higher-paying jobs that will allow them to continue the same lifestyles they experienced while living at home or at college. It isn’t always easy to find an open, available position that meets those criteria and also provides adequate financial compensation and opportunity for growth.

If you are on the job hunt and want to secure a position that appeals to you on a financial, emotional and intellectual level, here are 10 tips to help you in your search.

  1. Work your network. Landing the dream job in your industry is largely about who you know. Networking can be intimidating but it is critical for finding employment. College graduates who don’t attend networking events, join local groups, update their LinkedIn or work their personal connections may miss out on opportunities. References from friends, family, and professors can be an excellent way to connect with potential employers.
  2. Create a digital portfolio. If you have samples of your work, put them into a digital portfolio, such as a website, that can be easily shared with your interviewer during your video call. If you have digital examples or photographs of projects you have completed, make sure to keep them handy so you can share your video screen and present them to your interviewer if the need arises.
  3. Update and proofread your resume. A poorly-constructed resume can turn potential employers away. According to Business News Daily, about 70% of employers say that certain resume mistakes would cause them to reject a candidate before finishing the application. Make sure you are updating your resume for each job you apply to and read it over several times for common mistakes such as spelling and grammar.
  4. Update your LinkedIn profile. Having a clean, professional LinkedIn profile is essential for finding the best employment opportunities. If you want to be seriously considered for a professional job, you need a high quality headshot, a thorough employment history, and a specific description that includes keywords related to the job you want.
  5. Dress up for the interview. When interviewing for a particular position, it is important to dress the part. Even if you are interviewing for a remote position over a video call from your living room, dress as if you already have the position and are going into the office for a day’s work. This will show your future employer that you take the position seriously and are a motivated and responsible individual.
  6. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Overselling or underselling yourself to a potential employer signals a lack of self awareness. When you are writing your cover letter or interviewing for a particular position, make sure to objectively evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and be honest with yourself and your future employer about them.
  7. Do your research. Not only should you be researching your industry to find what employers are looking for, but you should also research specific companies with available positions. If you enter an interview process understanding a company’s background and mission, you’ll have a better chance of landing the job. During the interview process, ask questions about the company and the position for which you are applying. Interviewing is a two-way street and you want to make sure the company is a good fit for you.
  8. Be proactive and persistent. Job hunting can feel like a job in and of itself. If you are serious about your career, you’ll need to reach out to companies that you’d like to work for and follow up with them regularly. Demonstrating your determination and perseverance can show potential employers that you are passionate and can give you the edge over other candidates.
  9. Search alternative job boards. Traditional job boards like Indeed and Monster don’t always yield satisfactory results. Many college students and recent graduates complain about submitting dozens of resumes and not getting so much as a call or email explaining that they weren’t selected for an interview. Alternative job boards, such as RecDiv, offer an opportunity to get your resume in front of a curated, niche group of potential employers.
  10. Don’t give up. Landing your first job out of college is a long game. You will likely be rejected or, worse, ignored. This can be discouraging after a while, but don’t lose hope. Continue to put yourself out there and you will eventually find a good fit.

College graduates are facing a long, uphill climb when it comes to securing employment that meets their qualifications and requirements. That’s why RecDiv created an online job platform specifically to connect HBCU students and alumni with employers looking to hire diverse talent. RecDiv is the first online job platform created specifically for students and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. RecDiv connects employers with qualified candidates from HBCU and provides students with the career tools and resources they need to succeed. Check out our site to learn more.