Strategically Lowering Your Standards

Before I graduated college, I got the same excellent advice from several alumni I contacted who were working in the field I wanted to work in. They told me: "Find a job that's as close to what you want to do as possible, and then demonstrate what you're capable of."

The truth is that you may not land a job doing exactly what you want to do right out of college. But that doesn't mean you have to jump from "no one will hire me as a television writer" to "I will take any job that pays me money."

When you realize, after getting feedback from your job search, that you may have set your sights too high this time around, it's time to think strategically. What is the next best thing you can do?

If you can't get a full-time job doing what you love, can you find a part-time job? An internship? Freelance work? Volunteering? You may have to take on some other work to pay the bills for the moment, but think about how can you stay connected to the industry.

Can you find a full-time job at the company you're interested in that's a step below what you want to do? I started as an administrative assistant at a college and used my downtime to help out directors in nearby offices, which eventually lead to the creation of a brand-new analyst position designed around what I wanted to do.

Perhaps you have found full-time openings in the field you're interested in, but they pay lower than the salary you want. Do some research on Payscale.com and figure out whether your expectations are reasonable. If they are, then you have a good shot at negotiating a higher salary than what's listed. If not, consider taking the lower-paying job for the moment and working toward a higher-paying job.

Sometimes you may have to readjust your goals when your job search doesn’t pan out like you'd hoped. Take the long view: What can you do now that is most likely to help you end up where you want to be in five years?