Although college graduates this year will have a slightly easier time finding jobs than the class of 2009 did, hiring will remain very competitive. Courtesy of authors Nathan Bennet and Stephen Miles, here are a few tips on how to make the next few years figure favorably toward your career goals.

A Strong Foundation

Graduates should be thinking of the next year as a way to build on the foundation they created in college. This means every move you make should be thought of as a step toward building a more complete picture of your career. However, this doesn’t mean that your first job has to be the perfect one and the last one. Instead, you should look for opportunities to educate yourself in both breadth and depth: Gaining expertise in one skill or discovering which particular tasks you excel in.

Create Future Value

This often means taking a job that is slightly “outside the box,” and sometimes taking a pay cut. Taking a job at a smaller company or one that no one else is looking at often can give you the opportunity to have more responsibility and impact, even if you aren’t initially making as much money. Since you are young and do not have a family or mortgage to worry about, now is a good time to sacrifice some cash flow for experience. This will increase your value and make you a better candidate for better paying jobs in the future.

Keep Your Integrity

Maybe you deleted all of those frat party pictures from your Facebook account when you were applying to graduate, but just because you graduated now doesn’t mean that you should let your public image go. In fact, now more than ever it is important that you maintain your “personal brand” by not compromising your image through a picture or blog post. Don’t be afraid to express yourself, but realize that employers are becoming more and more savvy and placing greater importance on the way people represent themselves in social media and other public forums.

For more tips and links to Bennet and Miles’ book, view the press release here.

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