A new pack of college grads are gearing up to enter the job market—this year, 1.9 million people will graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and another 1 million will graduate with a master’s or doctorate degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Employers plan to hire 17% more graduates than in previous years, and with the unemployment rate at 3.6%, it’s a great time to enter the job market. According to LinkedIn, Amazon, EY (Ernst and Young), Price WaterHouse Cooper, Deloitte, and Lockheed Martin plan to hire the most new grads this year. Graduates are flocking toward professions like software engineer, registered nurse, salesperson, teacher and accountant, according to LinkedIn.
It’s important to have your resume ready and your interview skills polished as you start the application process. It typically takes five months to find a job, according to a study by Ranstad Recruiting. But once you secure a position, it’s important to prepare for the professional world by keeping your expectations in check, says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president at Indeed.
“Patience is the one word I would tell [new grads] to think about and remember,” Wolfe says. “You're not going to know everything walking in the door, especially if you've just graduated college. Really be a sponge and ask tons of questions.”
But be careful of how enthusiastic you may be to impress: according to job training agency Wolf Leaders Academy, employers find over-eagerness the most annoying characteristic of new grads. Be prepared to spend the first three months to a year getting settled. Career experts say employers will tolerate mistakes made during this time, but be sure to ask questions and avoid making the same mistakes more than once.
You might be underemployed during those first years out of college: 47% of female college graduates and 37% of male college graduates are initially underemployed, and underemployed workers were five times more likely to stay underemployed after five years than those who found a job in their professional field, according to a report by the Strada Institute.
If you hate your first job, it’s probably best to tough it out for the first year before moving on. Wolfe says if you’re at a job that’s not a good fit, explore what’s working and what’s not at your current position.
“I think it’s really important to discern what it is you don't like about it,” Wolfe says. “Really find what gets you excited, what you're passionate about, and that may take multiple jobs to get into that groove.”
Remember, your first job won’t dictate the rest of your career: Gen Z grads will switch jobs 4 times in the first 10 years after college, and those 25- to 34-year-olds stay at jobs an average of 2.8 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Wherever you end up right out of college, use the job as an opportunity, asking questions that show you’re thinking outside the box, and regularly seek feedback.