According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, just 63.9 percent of the class of 2013 has accepted a job offer. Landing a job post-graduation doesn’t always happen as fast as you might have hoped for, and you’re not alone if you’re still on the hot pursuit of entry-level employment.
Surely no one expects you to land a job the moment you walk across the graduation stage, but it’s normal to wonder if your unemployment streak is running a bit longer than expected. Currently, the Bureau Of Labor Statistics reports that the average duration for unemployment is nearly eight and a half months, although recent grads may be facing even more time between graduation and an entry-level position. This figure is likely to make even the most positive person feel a bit worrisome, but it may be the key to minimizing the pressure you’re experiencing during your job search.
Avoid staring blankly at your calendar and remember good things take time. Today, getting hired in an entry-level position requires experience. This means busying yourself with expanding your resume to increase your chances of landing full-time employment.
Here are a few ways to gain experience and bring you one step closer to landing your first entry-level position:
1. Internships. As a new graduate, you may feel your days of interning are long behind you. Think again. You’re probably holding out for a full-time salaried position in your field of choice, but avoiding internship opportunities might set you up for an even longer stint without a permanent position. It’s time to open up your search to paid internship opportunities.
One reason new graduates aren’t landing jobs at light speed is due to their level of experience. Employers expect their interns to have a resume full of experience in order to seal the deal for an entry-level hire. Post-graduate internships are one of the most effective ways to gain experience, develop new skills, build beneficial connections, and kickstart your career.
Not only can they send you to the front of the line when it comes to hiring from within for an entry-level position, they’re also a great way to make a decent wage with the average salary for a bachelor’s degree intern set at $16.26 an hour. Some more good news for recent graduates: 63.1 percent of paid interns received at least one job offer, whereas only 37 percent of unpaid interns did. Furthermore, if you had to return home after graduation and are living in a city with minimal employment opportunities, consider joining the 59.3 percent of students willing to do a virtual internship.
2. Freelancing. When you mix the current state of the job market with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Millennial generation, many recent graduates are pursuing freelance opportunities — either as a way to bide their time or as a full-time job. Freelancing isn’t an option in all career fields or for all types of individuals, but if you’re interested in working in social media, graphic design, or copywriting (and you have a knack for self-management), it’s a great way to expand your portfolio, hone your self-starting abilities, and potentially make a lot of money in the process.
Begin seeking out freelance opportunities through simple online searches, job boards, and your connections. A company you interned for previously may not have the room or budget to bring you on full-time, but they could have some project-based work. If you’ve got the passion and drive necessary for a high success rate, freelancing can easily go from a “side gig” to a full-time job. Keep seeking out opportunities during your time freelancing and be sure to tout your new set of skills and experiences. Employers will take notice.
3. A passion project. You don’t need a full-time job or internship to expand your resume and portfolio. Why not take on a personal project to showcase your skills? If you’re interested in marketing, consider starting a blog or taking on guest blogging opportunities. As for developers, consider building a slick-looking website or mobile app. Working on a passion project will teach you new skills, get you introduced to the community you’re interested in being a part of, and act as a great interview conversation piece when you’re applying for jobs.
4. Volunteering. Do you have a passion for helping others? Devoting a few hours a week to volunteering at a nonprofit isn’t just a chance to do some good in the world, it’s also a great way to improve your chances of getting hired. Bring your experience and skills to a nonprofit and jump in wherever you fit.
Even if working in the nonprofit sector isn’t on the top of your wish list, volunteering can open a new door when it comes to connections during your job search. Volunteers generally have a leg up on other candidates when jobs do open up at nonprofits, so why not be first in line? Your volunteer efforts will also show potential employers you’re keeping busy and gaining experience even without a full-time position under your belt. It’s also a chance to grow your current skill sets and immerse yourself in a variety of new opportunities and chance networking encounters.
Gaining experience is one of the most effective ways to minimize your time spent unemployed after graduation. Fortunately, there’s many ways to go about do so.
Are you a recent graduate looking for a job? How are you staying busy? Tell us below in the comments!
Ask Levo Mentor Chelsea Burcz, freelance writer for magazines like “Interview”, how she manages her time and makes her passion into her career!