As you prepare to exit college and venture tentatively into the real world, one of the first challenges you’ll face is the big job search. While job searching is, by its very nature, a difficult process, there are some things that you can do to ease your struggles and make getting the hunt a little easier. As you venture into the job market, keep these unwritten rules in mind.

1. Research the Requirements

To be realistic in your job search, you must research and understand the job requirements. Though hardly the most thrilling part of the job search process, doing your homework is necessary to ensure that you’ve adequately prepared yourself for the job on which you have set your sights. Search a reputable source, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, and gather information on the educational requirements for the job you seek. If you find through your diligent research that you don’t possess the education you need, consider venturing back to campus or working towards earning a degree online to ensure you’re armed with the credentials appropriate for your selected field.

2. Keep Records

As you move through the potentially tiresome and tedious task of applying for jobs, make it easier on yourself by keeping careful record of your efforts. Using a digital spreadsheet–or paper list if you like it old-school–to record every job for which you’ve applied. On this same list, make note of any follow-up you receive to keep an accurate running record of your efforts toward job procurement. Doing so can reduce the likelihood that you’re caught off guard by a call from a company you don’t even remember applying to.

3. Focus on Honesty

It can be tempting to stretch the truth when working to obtain a job you have your heart set on. Doing so, however, is a major mistake. Never exaggerate your skills or experience as, in all likelihood, you’ll eventually be found out. Instead, answer honestly at all times, focusing on your positives but admitting the weaknesses you may possess. No job seeker is perfect, so if you make yourself out to be so the hiring committee will know you aren’t being entirely truthful.

4. Use Rejection as a Learning Experience

Instead of immediately dismissing any rejection as the fault of the company that rejected you, use the missed opportunity as a chance to discover what you need to do to be successful in the future. When you leave an interview, instead of just passively hoping for the best, think critically about what went well and what didn’t. While the experience is still fresh in your mind, make note of what you could do differently in the future. Revisit these notes before future job interviews. For an even more crystal-clear picture of how you could improve, ask hiring officials why you didn’t end up at the top of their lists.

Think of your job search as the work you must complete to bring your career ambitions into reach. By putting these tips of the trade into practice, you can ease your struggles and make the inevitable stress of job seeking easier to handle.

Did you ever break one of these unwritten rules while job searching?
Tell us about it in the comments!

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Image courtesy of MJ/TR via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).