As a recent college graduate leaving behind the world of academia, you’re heading toward new hurdles on the immediate horizon.
This is the time of the dreaded “quarter-life crisis.” Unpredictability seems to surround everything—particularly when considering employment opportunities and financial stability. You face a rocky start in an economy that’s still recovering from the Great Recession of 2008.
Amid this difficulty, you can stay ahead of the financial curve by following two basic tips:
1. Personal marketing trumps all other tactics for landing your first job
In the job market, a college degree doesn’t guarantee a job, nor does it give you a huge advantage. Yet, a degree is worth the hundreds of study hours you put in and the thousands of dollars you spent on tuition (or will be paying over the next 10 years). With the fragile labor market, you may have to make do with a position that’s completely out of your field. The good news is that if you have a college degree, you face half the unemployment rate as those with only high school diplomas.
According to a 2012 study from the National Employment Law Project, three-fifths of the jobs lost during the recession paid middle-income wages. Since then, the economy has improved, but many of the recently created jobs pay lower wages. Fewer jobs are available in certain fields, making the job-to-applicant ratio disproportional. It’s the perfect employer’s market, with a large pool selection of qualified candidates.
Adding to this predicament, recent grads must either climb the corporate ladder or become self-made entrepreneurs; all the while being 10 to 15 years financially behind graduates from previous years. Quite simply, a college degree won’t get you in the door, and it won’t mean getting paid top dollar. It simply provides one of the basic components that need to be checked off on your resume.
What will help you get hired is how you market yourself.
Today’s luck of the draw depends on the trainability and flexibility given from those four, five or six years spent in college. Research, write and ace the test. Translated to the real world, that means: create an effective resume and cover letter and leverage your LinkedIn profile to network and aggressively job hunt. The key is to be seen throughout the employment market and distinguish yourself from the competition.
With social media platforms, networking has never been easier. Job search platforms such as Indeed.com list millions of available jobs. As someone who grew up in this multi-faceted digital era, it should be easy for you to use online tools and mobile apps to increase your odds for success.
2. Stick to your budget and save
If you just graduated, frugal living might be a reality. But try to make it a priority, too. Putting that extra graduation cash towards bills or for a rainy day will help set the stage for financial success.
Today’s economic uncertainty makes it essential to budget, reduce spending and save. Begin by calculating all of the necessary monthly payments needed for rent, utility, gas and groceries. Find ways to curb spending, research the best deals for new appliances, Internet and other optional daily amenities. Or, simply do without.
Even if you’re making bank as you’re job hunting, saving should still be a priority. Check to see if your bank has special offers on savings accounts. When you make a purchase with your debit card, some banks will round up to the nearest dollar and automatically deposit the extra “change” into your savings. Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot, that money adds up and will come in handy if you need it.
For recent graduates who are looking to find their way in society, there’s plenty of opportunity. It may not be as accessible as in previous years, but by marketing yourself in this type of economy and learning to live on a budget, you can set yourself up for financial and career success.
Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist for DISH’s best internet and TV bundles. She is a published journalist and blogger with an English degree and political science minor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.