Graduated? Seven job tips for college graduates.

The job data might seem rosier, but finding a job is harder than ever – especially for the nearly 2 million college students who will have graduated this year. Newly minted college graduates are up against experienced mid-career professionals who are also out there searching. Use these seven career tips to change your job search into a job offer.

1. Claim your career as your own

Mary Ann Chastain
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia smiles as he prepares to be graduated during ceremonies at the University of South Carolina Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences May 7, 2011, in Columbia, S.C. College graduates should make their career, not wait for it to happen.

Here’s a secret: Careers don’t just happen, they are made. If you want to have the job and career that you want and need, it will take an enormous amount of work on your part. Many graduating seniors mistakenly believe that it is the responsibility of their career service officers to get them a job. Not true. Until you are ready to take charge of, and own, your career, you won’t have one.

Owning your career takes discipline and true commitment. Sending 20 standard cover letters and résumés to and hoping for a response isn’t enough. To land the job you want, you need to make it your full-time job. Yes, this is hard – you have finals and papers to write, and friends to party with – but if you don’t work hard, you won’t get a job. Guaranteed.

Make a commitment to yourself and to your job search by claiming your career as your own. By pledging to do this, you will stop being a victim of the job market and will begin to take control over your future. This may sound hokey, but this symbolic act will help you accelerate your job search. Raise your hand and make the pledge.

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