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Graduated in May but still no job? 6 tips to land your first job

There’s a common myth that if you have a college degree, you have a job. But the reality is that it can take several months before a recent grad gets her first job—at least a job relevant to her bachelor’s degree.

There’s a saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” If simply applying to entry-level jobs isn’t working, doing more of it isn’t likely to work either. Plus, recruiters and hiring managers are harder to get a hold of during the summer months, which slows the hiring process. Perspective is everything though. Their downtime can be extra time for you to rethink your game plan. Instead of panicking, do these things and land your first job:

1. Tap your former classmates (the employed ones)

We’ve all heard that it’s often not what you know but who you know. The people you went to college with are so much more than friends and acquaintances now. They’re your network, the pathway to your first job.  Classmates who’ve recently started full-time jobs are a valuable resource. Reach out to everyone you know who have navigated the job boards, nailed interviews, and landed themselves jobs. These newbies won’t have a ton of pull, but they’ll at least have contact information for the recruiters who helped them, and the managers who make hiring decisions.

2. Connect with recruiters on LinkedIn

Recruiters can give you all the info you need about the interviewing and hiring process. And since hiring companies often count on recruiting firms to supply their workers, they have an in with the companies who are looking to hire, and they can share some valuable tips.

Adding recruiters to your LinkedIn network takes only a little effort on your part. It’s really as easy as typing the word “recruiter” in the search box, and then choosing your current or desired location. You can also search by employer name and connection level (1st, 2nd, or 3rddegree). You can leverage LinkedIn Groups too; just send the recruiter an invite or In-Mail.

3. Get freelance or contract work

Freelance and temp work is a great way to not only build experience and establish your professional credentials, but it also lets you try an industry/role/company on for size. Plus, this kind of work can turn into a full-time offer. Even though it’s your first job, if your employer sees that you’re responsible, capable, hard-working and compatible with their team, they’ll likely consider you immediately when new positions open up.

4. Use your college career center & job boards

Most universities offer resources: job boards similar to Indeed and Monster, and career counselors who can help you get your resume into good shape to land your first job. Counselors are also filled with ideas, contacts, and they can recommend positions and companies that might be a good fit for you.

5. Find 5 companies you want to work for

If there’s a company you’ve had your eye on for a while, one that has a mission you’re passionate about, or supports a social cause that’s close to your heart, or whose culture you have a connection to, reach out to a recruiter there. Go a step above applying to an open position and sending a cover letter and resume. Write a totally separate gripping email that explains why you’re the right person for them. Use your passion to convince them to give you a shot and help you with your fist job based on your potential and shared values, not your limited experience.

6. Practice interviewing

If you are getting call backs after applying to positions and landing face-to-face interviews, but that’s where the process ends, you may need to spruce up your interview skills. Run some mock interviews with a friend or someone you trust who has experience interviewing and getting hired. If you have the funds, you can attend a few sessions with an interview coach who can take you through the interview process, critique your interaction, and alert you to any missteps you’re making that would keep you from securing your first job.

Don’t give up on landing your first professional gig. Be relentless in your quest, apply these tips and you will secure that first job. It may not be the one you imagined, it may not be for the pay you imagined, but your first job is a necessary stepping stone to much bigger things. Thanks to it, when the time comes for your next job search, you’ll have the on-job-experience you now know you need.