HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Landing that first job right out of college isn't easy.
Limited experience in the career field coupled with competition from a growing number of experience unemployed workers has many students looking for answers on how to get ahead.
"If somebody has already been out there and they've got that experience, I mean, I think that companies maybe are willing to choose them over entry level people," said USM graduate Jessica Jones.
Many graduates like Jones are going back to school, while others are taking whatever job they can find, some even moving back home .
"What we're seeing are students with different questions, not how do I get a job, but I've been trying to get a job, it's not working now what do I need to do? So we've had to sorta think out of the box about new ways to help students enter the job market," said USM Career Services Director Rusty Anderson
Anderson and William Carey University Vice President for Student Services Brenda Waldrip say it's important for graduates to stay on top of openings and don't forget to network.
"It's not just enough to ship out resumes, you've got to make that personal connection with that employer," said Anderson.
"Don't just look once every two weeks. Look daily until you find and just saturate as much as you can," said Waldrip.
Graduates need to not just be another applicant and be able to sell themselves, making the employer see value rather than another resume.
"It's not unusual for a job opening to have 40 to 50 where as two years ago you might have 20 to 30. So trying to get through that screening process is a real tough part," said Anderson.
But it can be done, with persistence and most importantly being prepared.
"They can't afford not to be prepared for the interview, they can't afford not to have researched the company thoroughly and to have identified those key matches in unique skills in abilities they have to offer the employer," said Anderson.
Hattiesburg WIN Job Center branch manager Ron Adams sees the application process everyday. He, along with Anderson and Waldrip say a key factor is flexibility.
"Really to be able to compete today you've got to be flexible, you've got to be willing to move around," said Adams. "If you're willing to move and to look at different areas, there's work to be found. There's still good jobs, especially for recent grads."
"Many of our students are not eager to step out in the that unknown, another state," said Waldrip.
But when jobs present themselves, it could be the difference between employed and unemployed.