PhotoPeople graduating from college this month face a pretty good job market. The 4.4% unemployment rate is the best in years.

But even if they quickly slide into a job, 2017 grads may face other financial challenges. A large number are still leaving school with hefty student loan debt. They have to start their professional life juggling those loans.

In fact, new research from Experian found 69% of the graduating students in its survey are leaving school with student loan debt. Meanwhile, 70% of those students said their schools didn't do enough to prepare them for real-world personal finance.

KeyBank research reached a similar result – nearly 20% of grads know their financial goals, but are not sure they know how to get there. Experts at KeyBank offer grads three pieces of advice.

Financial advice for grads

Build a budget. Parcel out that full-time job paycheck to adequately cover anticipated expenses, including rent, transportation, student loans, food and insurance.

"At this stage in life, budgeting really begins with knowing your take-home income, your student loan debt and then making lifestyle choices that keep expenses within 90 percent of that income," said Stephen D. Fournier, KeyBank Central New York market president and regional network deposits sponsor.

At the same time, new graduates are urged to develop a savings strategy and carefully monitor their credit report and score.

Landing a job

Meanwhile, grads who have yet to nail down a job after graduation are getting some advice from staffing firm Robert Half. Among its advice:

  • Apply for a job, even if you don't meet all the requirements. First have a wish list, but don't expect to get everything
  • To turn an internship into a full-time job, take the initiative, don't want for the firm to make an offer. The sooner you can make your pitch, the better.
  • If you don't have the job experience a job posting requires, highlight the experience you do have, and explain how it's relevant. Don't forget to highlight your soft skills and customer service abilities.
  • If you don't get a job you've applied for, it doesn't mean you have to give up. Asking the hiring manager if the door will remain open for future positions. He or she will respect that. Then, move on to look for other job opportunities.

Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, says soft skills are more important than ever. Stress your communication and collaboration skills to show you're a good fit with the organization.


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