Class of 2021 graduates have a lot to look forward to — the pandemic is lifting and companies are hiring again. After a year of furloughs, hiring freezes, and a high unemployment rate, things are finally on the upswing. Starting salaries are also on the rebound.

And while all this might look promising, 2021 graduates will be faced with fierce competition as many of their class of 2020 peers who graduated at the start of the pandemic are still looking for work. But the good news is that there are lots of jobs out there as the U.S. economy emerges from its pandemic-driven slump.

We tapped into some of our Executive Recruiters at ForceBrands to ask them about the best advice they have for recent graduates when it comes to landing that first big job. Read on for some words of wisdom.

“Your first position post-graduation can be intimidating, but confronting the challenge head-on, being adaptable, and asking questions can make the transition easier. Find mentors to learn best practices from, and take notes from your colleagues with proven success in the company. A determined and persistent work ethic does not go unnoticed for new hires!” —Brooke Westley, Senior Executive Recruiter

“Go through LinkedIn, connect with people you know, and don’t be afraid to ask for introductions or get on a networking call. Update your résumé for the types of roles you’re applying to. No one cares that you were a checkers champ in fourth grade, drop that and talk about your leadership abilities in and outside of the classroom. Most importantly, don’t get lazy in editing your résumé for each postilion. I know it gets draining, but the more specific you can be in aligning your skill set to a job description, the higher your chances are of getting a call.” —Adina Rothfeld, Senior Director, Executive Recruitment

“Persistence, persistence, persistence! We’re in one of the toughest job markets in recent years, so being relevant and persistent are key to standing out. Most hiring managers will also conduct online Google searches about you so be sure your social channels represent you in the best way possible. Otherwise, make them private.” —Alaina Bavelas, aPHR, Executive Recruiter

“Hunting for your first job out of college can be really daunting. Everyone seems to require 2-3 years of experience for an entry-level role and it can be super frustrating. However, it’s not impossible! Here are my tips for finding your first gig:

• Utilize the cover letter: Contrary to popular belief, cover letters are not dead. But, they need to be specific and tailored to each of your potential employers. Make it specific to the job you are applying for and tie your experiences into what they are looking for.
• Follow Up: After your interview, it is mandatory you send a thank you email to everyone who you interviewed with. Make sure it is specific to each interviewer and try to pull in an anecdote from your conversation so they know you were listening.
• Don’t Get Down on Yourself: Everyone has to take a few knocks before you land something. Interviewing is a skill that has to be learned and you will have to practice in real time. As long as you walk away from each interview having learned something, you can count that as a win!” —Connor MacWilliams, Senior Director, Executive Recruitment & Operations

Ready to start your job search? Explore our job board or reach out to one of our Executive Recruiters.