New grads: You may get hired this year after all

New rules for career success

If the 1.8 million recent college graduates in the United States are stressed out these days, it's hard to blame them: The U.S. underemployment rate ranks highest for 22- to 27-year-olds.

The good news, however, is that employers are more open to this year than in 2013. Employers responding to the National Association of Colleges and Employers said they plan to hire 8.6 percent more people than they did in last the graduating class.

Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of "Promote Yourself," says today's graduates should focus on finding the right match more than worrying too much about their GPA. According to his study in partnership with, 43 percent of companies say cultural fit is the single most important factor in making a hire, exceeding GPA, name of college, relevant courses and internship experiences.

"These employers are looking for favorites, they want to work with people they like," Schawbel said.

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Of the employers surveyed, 36 percent said new graduates are unprepared for their interviews, and 33 percent agreed with the statement that candidates have a bad attitude when interviewing for a job.

"They're not doing research on Google news, company websites and the LinkedIn profiles of the people they're going to be meeting with," Schawbel said. "Employers have higher expectations, because all this information exists online."

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CollegeFeed is a service hoping to make it easier for students to be connected with employers. It was started by Sanjeev Agrawal, who says there's been little innovation in the job search process.

"A lot of companies, small businesses believe that the way to hire college students is to go on campus," Agrawal said. "That the only way to attract students is to go to a career fair, but why shouldn't every day be a career fair?"

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Schawbel advises that when it comes to job applications, less is more, saying graduates should invest more time in the job prospects they're passionate about.

"They have to do work for themselves, build their own website, do freelance work or extra internships even if they've graduated and can't find a job, so they have something to show," he said.

—By CNBC's Uptin Saiidi