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In May 2014, U.S. employers posted 4.6 million job openings, the most since 2007. Despite the rise in opportunities, competition remains fierce, and many new college grads will face an uphill battle while looking for their first full-time jobs. Searching for work can be a long, frustrating process, but as Helen Evans, marketing manager of, writes for, there are ways to stay motivated and increase your chances of landing that dream gig. Evans has outlined “5 Job Searching Tips for New Graduates,” and her advice makes total sense. Keep reading to see what she recommends.

1. Expect to Search Full-Time — Guess what? Looking for a full-time job is a full-time job. The key, Evans writes, is to get creative with your search. Don’t simply rely on job postings. Use social media to connect with people in your field, and start attending job fairs and contacting recruiters.

2. Don’t Stop Too Early — Ever get home from a job interview and figure you’ve got the position locked up? You may well have nailed it, but just in case they don’t hire you, you’ll want to keep on searching while you wait for that offer. “A job is never a sure thing until you’re officially hired,” Evans writes. “It’s not uncommon for job seekers to turn down interviews and offers from other companies because they’re so sure of an opportunity.”

3. Connect With Alumni — According to Evans, alumni can be “your greatest lifeline.” Reach out using sites like LinkedIn or Facebook and try to schedule phone calls to discuss the companies these new contacts work for. But don’t be too pushy. You’re trying to network, Evans warns, not flat-out ask for a job.

4. Volunteer — Ideally, you’ll find a job that pays you money, but while your search, why not do something that rewards you with a sense of accomplishment? By volunteering, you might also pick up new skills and meet people in positions to help advance your career. “Be sure to choose an organization that you truly care about, and look for volunteer opportunities in a related field,” Evans advises. “If you conduct yourself in a professional way and work hard, you may just capture the right person’s attention.”

5. Network, Network, Network — Why is everyone always talking about networking? Because it’s really, really important. You might start by joining a local chapter of a professional organization, Evans writes, though there are millions of ways to connect with people in your field. Good luck!

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