Last week I had the chance to speak with FM WRHU in New York. The station is affiliated with Hofstra University, so as you can imagine the topics centered on recent college graduates and their ability to find work in their field of study.

I carefully monitor the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ various reports related to unemployment, but when you want to review the unemployment rates according to educational attainment, the reports only identify the breakdown for 25-year-olds and older. Since we’re essentially looking at under 25-year-olds, we need to rely on surveys and polls that are theoretically less accurate because entities such as the Economy Policy Institute and universities will use census bureau data as well as information from the Department of Labor to interpolate those statistics.

finding a job out of collegeEven so, I’m willing to give those assessments the benefit of the doubt. The numbers are staggering. Reports I’ve been reviewing over the last quarter or so showed approximately 1.5 million, or 53.6%, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed. Somewhere between 40-50% of those 1.5 million are actually employed (the underemployed), but working in positions that don’t necessarily require college degrees.

How can a recent college graduate combat those daunting statistics?  There are three key actions you can take to improve your chances of finding a job out of college.

Expand your network. Make it your mission to meet as many people as possible. (Actually, do this for the rest of your life and hang on to every phone number and email address you accumulate. You will need these again at some future point in your career. Trust me.) Join relevant networking groups. Use the social tools such as Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter to expand your network. That will give you more visibility to what opportunities are available in the market. If you do identify a job opportunity at a particular company, you might improve your chances if you’re able to identify someone you know that works there.

Improve your interviewing skills. Books like Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired will certainly help you with that.  There are also loads of other resources available. Check out the career sites.

Improve your knowledge of the subject matter. Seek training courses or certifications you can achieve in your area of study that would make you more marketable. Keep in mind, that while it may sound obvious that a recent college graduate is a more cost effective resource for an employer, they also come with less experience. If you can somehow neutralize the latter point, it’ll help.

Lastly, treat finding a job like a full-time job. The more opportunities you provide yourself the better chance you’ll have. Keep a positive attitude. Take action. Most importantly, continue to network with your friends, family, and common interest groups. Lastly, did I mention to make sure you keep expanding your network?