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How to Ace the Post Grad Job Search

Career Advice |

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!


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I graduated in December and I'm constantly worried about finding a job and wondering what's wrong with me. I work part time as a server at a restaurant and in my free time, I work on some screenwriting projects. These are great tips for gaining some experience! Thanks!


As a recent graduate, its comforting to know that our average work time to find an entry level job is around 8 months. The search for a job in the big city has been disheartening, but this articles provides some useful ideas to stay relevant in the job market.


I really enjoyed this article but making it sound so easy to get a paid internship is a bit deceiving. I recently had to turn down an unpaid internship that would have been lucrative to my post-graduation job search because I have bills to pay. It kinda sucks.


I just graduated and I'm on the job hunt. I've been working on finding a mentor and using my current networks of friends, family, and former coworkers to help me talk to as many people as possible. I'm hoping making connections will help my resume land at the top of the pile!


I graduated in December and have been looking for a job ever since, and I'm okay with the idea of taking an internship, but my field is fashion and paid fashion internships are near impossible to find...what am I supposed to do? I can't survive while making no money, but I need experience in my field!!


Hi Kate! I freelanced at a fashion company for a while after graduation and I got the job through asking my network for introductions & asking companies for informational/informal interviews. Even asking your local boutique if you could shadow the manager or someone for the day may be a great way to get a door into the fashion industry.


I'm so happy this article appeared, because like a lot of college students I've been feeling stressed out about the limited job market after graduation. It's hard not to, because every day a new study or statistic comes out and makes the situation seem even more dire. It feels good to see an article that is more constructive than sensational, more news sources should try it!

Nesima Aberra

I agree that post-grad internships and fellowships are the best bet when entry-level work is hard to find. I'm finding tons of jobs that I'd be great for and would love to have if I had 5 years of experience, but I just graduated!! It's a tough place to be in.


These are all great tips for gaining real-world experience out of college and boosting your resume to help with your job search! The job market is definitely discouraging for many, so it is critical to not get too bogged down and instead try to use the time to do things that will increase your chances of being hired!


As a rising senior, it is so easy to expect a full-time, entry-level job right after college, however that is difficult to accomplish. Recognizing that there are many great paths to get you to your dream job makes the process a little less stressful and possibly more enjoyable!


I love the idea of having a passion project. Too often, people define success in only monetary terms, but having a great project you work on by yourself can really stand out on a resume!


I love how this article turns what seems like disheartening statistics and makes them motivation for moving forward. As a recent grad, I'm definitely going to refer back to this again and again!


The post grad job search is a scary one at that, so I've heard. One of the reasons I'm anticipating senior year so much is because finding a job is looming. It's nice to know that there are other options besides a full time job, incase my path doesn't head that way immediately. I was shocked to find out that paid post grad internships are an option; I always thought that was taboo-as if you were going backwards but it's a relief to know that there are people who do accept post grad internships and that it is always an option. Great advice!


It is so difficult to get hired right out of college, so if you don't get your dream job immediately, don't worry. These are great suggestions to enhance your resume and get closer to landing that job!

Ashley Mosley

Ashley Mosley is Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.