Prospects may look bleak for those entering the job market during the current health and economic crisis. Here are seven tips to steer you through.

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The current health and economic crisis has affected everyone, but it can be exceptionally daunting for post-secondary graduates and other young adults just starting their careers. The high unemployment rates and a tough job market only increases the pressure and financial worries. Don’t lose hope!

Here are seven tips to help you navigate the uncertainty surrounding your next career steps. 

1. Align your expectations and be realistic

The job market is uncertain right now. Many companies have had to downsize, freeze hiring, and cut internships and entry-level programs. It is vital to acknowledge these circumstances while searching for work and not let that discourage you on your career path. These are anything but normal times, but things will eventually pick up again. It is entirely understandable if you are struggling to find a position in your field. Allow yourself time to find your perfect job by taking a temporary job to pay the bills until the right opportunity comes along. Don’t let your ego get in the way.

2. Utilize your network

Some companies will bootstrap their hiring practices in an economic downturn and not use recruiters or paid job boards. This increases the importance of your own network to get the word out that you are looking for work. Many jobs are never publicly posted and are instead filled through referrals. One of your industry connections could catch wind of an opening that you would be perfect for. Reflect on who you know with connections in your industry and consider reaching out to them, asking that they keep you in mind for any future opportunities they hear about. Always be professional and courteous. While directly asking for a job may not be well received, writing a friendly e-mail explaining where you are in your job search, followed by a kind request to keep you in mind if anything comes up, could gain you a considerable ally in your search.    

3. Volunteer

Getting a foot in the door can go a long way when starting your career. If you are in a financial situation that allows you to offer to volunteer, it can open a world of possibilities. Many small- to medium-sized companies have a less concrete structure and could genuinely benefit from an extra set of hands during this difficult time. Volunteering can lead to industry contacts, enhance your résumé and even result in a full-time position once the company can afford it. Think of the opportunity as an extended working interview.

Related: Why You Should Volunteer Before Launching Your Career

4. Tap into your career resources

Universities, colleges and professional affiliations offer many services that can assist in your job search. Some even have job boards with opportunities that are exclusive to your school. Others connect employers with government funding opportunities for young adults or people reentering the job market. Research what career services and contact personnel these institutions can provide to you.

Related: 40 Online Resources All Women in Tech Careers Should Know About

5. Check job boards daily

The job market is extremely competitive right now. Some postings state they will remain open until a specified date but close earlier due to many applicants. It’s common for smaller companies to begin pre-screens or interviews within a few days of posting the position. The number of applicants competing for publicly posted jobs is substantially larger than it was pre-pandemic, so the quicker you apply, the better your chances. Any advantage helps. 

6. Explore part-time opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures

Even seasoned industry professionals are struggling to find work in this market, so if you can’t seem to land a job in your field, there are other ways to use your time productively. Consider taking a part-time opportunity that may lead to full time, and spend your extra time taking online classes to learn a new, in-demand skill such as computer programming or digital marketing. Also, consider starting a venture such as lawn care, tutoring or dog walking, or return to a previous field such as fitness, retail or hospitality. Meanwhile, you can continue your search and enhance your skill set. 

7. Stay positive

It can be discouraging to be out of work, but remember, you are not alone. Millions worldwide are experiencing these same struggles, and resilience is a crucial skill to build. It is vital to ensure your mental health is not compromised and your confidence is not shaken. Remember, how you spend your time now to prepare for the future is time and energy wisely invested.

Related: How to Strengthen Your Personal Resilience