5 Ways to Conquer Unemployment as a New Grad

You aced your finals, picked up your graduation robe and scheduled that celebratory family dinner. Everything has fallen into place for graduation day except that all-encompassing search for a job. You’ve tapped your network, sent hundreds of applications and even invested in your first corporate wardrobe, but your inbox sits quietly, daring you to get your hopes up.

You’re graduating without a job offer, and you don’t know what to do next.

Here’s one way to look at it: you have been given the gift of time. Until your savings runs out, you have been given the opportunity to explore the real-life applications of your degree and education and figure out which career path is right for you. If you get started right away you might even find yourself embarking on a new adventure that turns into a job by surprise. Here’s a look at five productive ways to invest your newfound time into finding and building a long-term career.

1. Keep looking for a job

Taking time to invest in your career doesn’t mean you’re not looking for a job anymore. Set aside time each week to ask for feedback on your resume and cover letter. Identify industry blogs and websites you can read to stay up to date on what is happening in your field. Set up a Simply Hired job email alert so that you are always aware of the latest opportunities in your field. You can also set up alerts for industry-specific news and job websites using a “recipe” on IFTTT.

2. Don’t immediately jump into grad school

There are plenty of good reasons to go to grad school. However, postponing the real world isn’t one of them. The last thing you need to do after graduating is take on more student loans out of fear of not having a job. Not having a job offer isn’t the universe’s way of telling you to get a new degree. It’s an opportunity to try out different ideas and investigate the right opportunity for you.

3. Schedule networking opportunities

It may be tempting to invest this time power-streaming your favorite show on Netflix, but avoiding human contact is the worst possible way to approach this jobless time. Instead, meet and form relationships with as many people as possible. Tackle formal opportunities with local networking chapters. (MeetUp can be particularly helpful, but watch out for multilevel marketing schemes.) Further establish relationships with your personal network of friends, family and fellow graduates. Get your name and face in front of as many contacts as possible, and then follow up on LinkedIn to cast your career net wide.

4.  Start an online business or blog

The Internet is an amazing tool that you can use to develop an income. Research your field and brainstorm different ways that you can make an income, even if you only start with a few hundred dollars at a time. This may take the form of active freelancing in which you practice a particular craft such as freelance writing, or it may take the form of passive ecommerce or product development. If you have time and a computer, the sky’s the limit. If you don’t enjoy the work you do, you will at least be learning valuable skills that you can add to your resume, such as digital marketing, copywriting, graphic design, social media marketing and website design.

5.  Shadow someone in your dream job

Ask any successful person. The reality of your dream job is often far different from what you imagine when you first graduate with a degree. Reach out to someone established in your field and ask to shadow them for a day or a few hours. You don’t necessarily need to have a personal relationship with them first. Reach out by email and respectfully explain your situation. Be authentic and complimentary and provide an easy out if the person is very busy or not interested. There is no harm in asking, and you may build a valuable relationship along the way.

No job? No problem. Make the most of your time after graduation by exploring your options for networking, building an income and further researching the right career for you. You may find yourself hot on the trail of an even better opportunity.