hireIf you’re a recent grad still struggling to find that first post-college opportunity, never fear! You don’t have to move back in with your parents. You don’t have to resort to eating nothing but ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese (the off-brand stuff, not the good stuff). You don’t have to scrape your way through the rest of the year in an unpaid internship just to “get experience” and build a professional network.

If you follow these tips, you’ll not only find work, but also learn what to expect once you are working:

1. Head to the Nearest Temp Agency

You will learn as much or more working as a temp as you would working as an intern, and an agency will put you to work faster than you can find an internship this time of year.

In this tight job market, workers aren’t the only people struggling. Companies themselves have a hard time finding qualified candidates. Many organizations turn to temps to help fill the void.

While you may have heard in the past that temps are lazy, noncommittal, or unreliable, those rumors simply don’t hold water anymore – if they ever truly did. Nearly 85 percent of respondents to the recent “Randstad Workmonitor” survey said they would accept a temporary contract to avoid unemployment.

“Internships have traditionally been the best way for students to get firsthand industry training and insight, but they don’t always offer job prospects,” says Jim Link, chief human resources officer for staffing agency Randstad North America. “Temp work often does, as it’s filling a void or need in a company. It helps people get a foot in the door at desirable companies, fill in gaps in resumes, sharpen skills, break into new career paths, and even build a large network of valuable contacts.”

2. Don’t Plan on Your First Job Being Your Only Job

You see, recent college graduate, lifetime careers were a 20th-century thing. In 2017, we face a cutthroat job market where competitors regularly poach top talent from each other. Employees have gotten really good at transferring their old 401(k)s to their new 401(k)s every couple of years.

Okay, so maybe landing a job for life is not entirely impossible, but the fact is, if you want a raise in a few years, market trends suggest you will need to change jobs to get it.

“It’s common knowledge that the rate of job change has risen steadily over the last several years and employer loyalty isn’t as strong as it once was,” says Link. “We’ve had countless conversations with employers that indicate it’s top of mind and something they’re trying to solve. Just look at the perks employers are giving to retain their talent.”

glassesAccording to Link, the crux of the retention issue lies in building great employee experiences that meet people’s needs, give them flexibility, and help them grow and develop in their careers.

That being said, our job-hopping culture isn’t all bad.

“People are getting exposure to more diverse work, and that broader business understanding and multidisciplinary skill set can bring value to employers,” Link notes.

3. Never Stop Learning

You may think that that fancy five-to-six-figure piece of paper in your hand means you never have to open a textbook again, but you’d be wrong. While it’s important not to undervalue yourself in the corporate world, you’re probably not as qualified as you think you are – so don’t get cocky. A degree is fantastic – and congratulations on that achievement – but it’s only one piece of the larger puzzle.

Practical experience is vital to successful career growth, so make sure you learn what you can from more experienced coworkers. An unwillingness to adapt to changing practices and trends has led to many a mass layoff for baby boomers and Generation X-ers who found themselves suddenly and utterly irrelevant. Once you’ve begun your career, you must keep up with the latest and greatest technologies and best practices, or else you may find yourself back on your parents’ couch eating ramen again.

Ideally, your company should provide training or pay for external classes to help you stay on top of your game.

“Employers have been living with the talent shortage for some time now, and many are getting more progressive in how they manage this gap,” Link says. “Upskilling should be a top priority for any business, because it increases employee value and productivity, reduces costs associated with bringing in a new worker from outside the organization, and leads to more business agility.”

If you find yourself without an employer to help you grow and develop, you always can upskill yourself for free or relatively cheap online. From massive online open courses (MOOCs) to instructional YouTube videos, the internet is a treasure trove of expertise juts waiting for you.

“The skills of the future are still evolving … and talent can keep themselves valuable to current employers – or others if they want a move – by upskilling themselves,” Link says. “I believe future employment will look incredibly different. Employers will pull from a collaborative network of talent and pay them for their experience and an outcome, so self-propelled education will become critical.”

So, recent graduate, your first entry-level job or temp gig may not be your dream job, but you should still give it your all and take from it what you can. Soon, doors will begin to open for you. Each new opportunity will lead to more opportunities, and eventually, you’ll be sitting snugly in your dream career.

Best of luck to you, Class of 2017.

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