What to do After College if You Can’t Find a Job

You’ve spent four years listening to lectures, studying, and pulling all nighters writing papers. You’ve paid thousands of dollars and perhaps owe thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for your education. In June, you finally walked across the stage and received your college degree. From here on out, life should be smooth sailing, right? Maybe not.

college grad

In April of this year, the unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds was a whopping 13.2%. It’s not easy for anyone to get a job in today’s market, but recent graduates with no experience are having an especially hard time. If you’re one of those recent graduates who can’t find a job, what are you supposed to do? Take a deep breath and think things through. There are options for you, and even though they might not be ideal, they may see you through until the economy turns around.

5 Things You Can Do If You Can’t Find a Job

Keep Looking

Your first option is to keep looking for a job. If you have someone (like parents) who can support you while you’re unemployed, you have the luxury of waiting out the economy. Keep applying for jobs. Network a lot. Use social media for your job search. Keep putting your best foot forward, and sooner or later, you’re bound to find something, even if it’s not your dream job.

Go Overseas

The economy in the United States stinks, but you may be able to do something overseas. The most popular option is teaching English in a foreign country. Even if teaching isn’t your thing, a job teaching English overseas will provide you with a great opportunity to travel. And since the ideal time to travel is when your young, teaching English as a second language might be an adventure worth exploring.


A great way to gain job experience is to volunteer in your field of interest. The benefit of volunteering or taking an unpaid internship is that your resume won’t show any gaps when you do apply for a paying job. The downside is that you will need to be selective about what you do. Some volunteer “opportunities” won’t teach you much and will have you doing menial work for no pay.

String Together Part Time Jobs

One way to ride out the economy is to string together a couple of part time jobs. Your schedule will be busy, and you likely won’t be getting any benefits, but at least you will have some money coming in. I actually did this myself after college. It’s not fun, but it pays the bills.

Work for Yourself

If you have a skill you can sell, go into business for yourself. Write, pet-sit, do yard work. The possibilities are endless. I have a brother who is very good at selling his various talents. He once traveled across the country, offering to do manual labor for people when he needed money. Again, it’s not the most fun work, but it provides some income.

In today’s economy job prospects for recent college graduates are few. But with a little creativity and determination, you can find a way to ride out the economy until the day comes when you can begin the career for which you studied.

Do you have any suggestions for recent college graduates who can’t find a job?

Photo by ralph and jenny.


By , on Aug 1, 2012
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Steve:

    How am I supposed to feed myself and pay rent after college, working under some zit faced high school kid as a barista?

  2. It takes a lot of work to figure out what you want to do as much as what you can do. Especially if you wish to work overseas. When I graduated from Uni at Cal, I wanted to live abroad and work overseas, but found the lack of resources online. You either had BS spam sites or gapyear type sites wanting you to pay a fortune to basically volunteer. There are a lot of jobs overseas but you need to go about getting them sometimes in different ways. For example, lets say you want to live in Rome – you could do street sales http://aroundtheworldin80jobs.com/jobs-in-rome/

    Or there are other types of gig there you can get under the table. There is always teaching english, but I wanted to do different jobs, ergo why I started my site. Let me know if you need any advice if you want to go abroad.

    oh and btw. applying online for jobs is bs. You resume goes into a system with thousands of other people. It is all about the ground hustle and networking.

    best of luck guys.


  3. college grad:

    We appreciate your advice, but it isn’t nearly simple as these “5 choices.” A recent finance major from a major Univ., part time jobs are just as difficult to find, and nowhere do I see overseas jobs being offered (sure it sounds nice). No, this is a difficult time, and I’ve noticed most friends staying home with their parents wasting hours at home not getting a job.

    • Ryan:

      Nobody can seem to understand this. The only advice one can offer is to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I graduated in 2011 from a private college with a degree in history and political science and not only can I not find a real job, I can’t find a job as a laborer, or any part time. I am, or was self employed, as a painter, like they say, but there is no work. It’s not that easy to just start a business. Of course one can, but what does one do when no one wants their services? This again, equals no job. I can’t move to take a job that pays 10$ hr, that would barely pay rent. It’s been 15 months and I haven’t found anything; I’ve had interviews but when they are interviewing 50 other people with 300 applicants, they all end the same way.

      • Really?:

        You graduated with a degree in history and you thought it would be easy for you to find a job?

        • East Coast Gal:

          You’re missing the point here. It shouldn’t matter what you majored in in order to find entry-level, low-paying jobs like manual labor, secretarial work, or being a barista at Starbucks. Locally, there was a leaf-collecting job open (which is a completely non-skilled, low paying job that includes manual labor) which got literally 300+ applications, (the usual number being about 20) from across the country. And many of the applicants had “real” college degrees, not just liberal arts majors.

  4. Victoria:

    This is definitely a fear of mine. I’m currently getting a 4 year degree in Information Technology. Thanks for an excellent post.

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