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Graduating college is an exciting time, but for those looking to start their post-graduate career, it can also bring some anxiety. The job-searching process can be lengthy and at times frustrating, but these tips may make the experience a bit less daunting.

Start the application process early.

Some companies have a lengthy interview process for potential candidates, and you may not hear back about every opportunity you apply for, so make sure to start the process before graduation. Employers may not officially hire you until you have graduated and received your degree, but applying early helps you get one step ahead.

Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs because you don’t meet every single qualification on the list.

Job descriptions usually list out ideal qualifications a candidate will have, but if you fall short on one of two on the list, it shouldn’t discourage you from applying for the role. A recent LinkedIn study showed that men are likely to apply for jobs if they meet just 60% of the requirements, while women are more likely to apply only if they meet 100% of requirements. As women, we should own our experience and be confident about what we can bring to the table. Even if you’re missing a few desired skills or don’t have the exact number of years of experience the company is looking for, your resume, interviews and professional contacts can all help you stand out, and you may hold a unique set of skills that will set you apart.

Make and leverage connections in your sorority network.

Advisors, alumni and even leaders at the national level of your organization can be great resources as you search for jobs and build your professional network. They may have connections in your industry of choice or even know about job opportunities you aren’t aware of. One of the benefits of joining a sorority is having a connection with women around the world through your membership. Leverage those connections by contacting Alumnae chapters, posting on Facebook groups or on other social media platforms. It never hurts to ask and use the connections you have made.

Talk about your sorority experience.

If you held a leadership position in your chapter, include it in your resume. If you came up with an idea for a workshop that had a positive influence on your chapter, talk about that in interviews. Before finding my first job out of college, I didn’t have much professionals experience in my particular field. But what helped me stand out to my company were the leadership skills I gained as Panhellenic president during college. By talking about my experience in that role, I was able to demonstrate my commitment to leadership development, organization, and service. So much of the sorority experience is relevant in other parts of our lives, and many of the things we learn through serving our organizations can be transferred over as skills in our careers.

If you don’t hear back after submitting an application or having an interview, follow up.

If you feel like your resume checked off all the qualifications of a role, or you really aced that interview, there’s no harm in following up and asking about the status of the position. Worst case scenario, you still won’t hear back, and you’ll know that company wasn’t a good fit. Best case, they’ll appreciate your persistence and you’ll be an even stronger candidate for the role.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not getting many responses.

The job-searching process can be a long one. You may apply for ten positions and only hear back about two. This can seem discouraging, but it doesn’t mean you’re not talented or you’ll never find a job in your field. Job hunting is difficult, and it can take time to get started in your career. This is normal, and as long as you keep submitting applications and building your network, you won’t be searching forever, an opportunity will come along.

Remember to send “thank you” letters.

One of the simplest ways to leave a positive first impression after an interview is to follow up with a thank you. A best practice is to thank every person who has interviewed you, and if a formal letter seems like it will take too long to craft, you can always send a nice email thanking your interviewers for their time. These letters don’t have to be too lengthy or in-depth, and you can always craft a generic thank you letter in advance and add in a few personal details to that template after an interview to make the process quicker. This may seem like a small step, but it is one that can make a huge difference to employers.

Searching for jobs takes a considerable amount of time, effort and resources. But by building up your network, staying persistent and having confidence in yourself, you’ll be on your way to a successful post-graduate career.

Written by Danielle McNary

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