4 tips for recent grads who want to land their dream job and salary in 2019

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If you're a recent college graduate or a soon-to-be graduate, then one of your biggest goals for 2019 is probably to land a job. (Decent pay and benefits would be nice, too.)

Luckily, with a record number of job openings today, new grads are in the perfect position to do just that.

"It's a market where people looking for jobs have the ability to get multiple offers and have employers compete for them," Marc Cenedella, the CEO of the career site Ladders, told CNBC Make It earlier this year.

But though the current economy favors job seekers, career experts and coaches warn that grads will still need to do everything they can to set themselves up for success. Below are four things first-job seekers should do as they try to land their dream job in the new year: 

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1. Maximize your unpaid experiences

If you're a recent graduate, then chances are you've come across an entry-level job that requires three to five years of work experience. But, rather than panicking about the qualifications you think you lack, TopResume's career expert Amanda Augustine says you should pull out a pen and paper to write down everything you did in college that helped you to "build the skills that will make you attractive to employers."

She says this list should include internships, volunteer experiences, local professional groups you joined and even senior-level classes you took where a big research project was involved.

"It's all about positioning," she says. "Your resume is a marketing document and you want to position it for whatever you are going after. That means play up the things employers are looking for and play down the things they aren't."

Click here to learn more about how you can sell yourself for a job you think you may not be qualified for.

2. Don't rely solely on your resume

Though resumes play an important role in the job search, they are certainly not the only thing you should focus on.

According to Gary Burnison, CEO of executive search firm Korn Ferry, many job seekers make the mistake of thinking their resume accounts for 90 percent of the job searching process, when really, it only accounts for 10. Networking, he says, is a major step that many people forget.

Joshua Howarth, district president of global staffing firm Robert Half, agrees. He suggests young professionals go to job fairs and join professional organizations that will put them in the position to meet with employers and people in their industry face-to-face.

"You want to get yourself out there and network and meet with people in person," he tells CNBC Make It. "If your job search strategy is simply to sit behind your computer and send as many online job applications as possible, then you may not get far."

Click here to learn more about why a good resume isn't the only thing you need to land a job.

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3. Follow-up after a job interview

It's not uncommon for an employer to completely ghost a candidate after an interview, especially if they have a long list of applicants applying for a job. To ensure that this doesn't happen to you, Howarth says it's important that you have a proper follow-up plan.

Not only does he recommend sending a standard thank you note no more than 24 hours after your meeting, but Howarth says you should also get direct insight from your interviewer on how the hiring process works.

Before ending your interview, he says you should ask the employer, "What do you see as the next steps in the process and the timeline for when those steps will occur?" That way, he explains, you'll have a clear sense of when you should follow-up if you don't hear anything by the expected timeline.

If an interviewer doesn't give you a direct answer, then Howarth says you should wait a week to 10 days before reaching back out.

Click here to learn more about the best ways to follow up with an employer after an interview.

4. Research how much you should make

According to personal finance site NerdWallet, just 38 percent of recent graduates negotiate their salary, despite three-quarters of employers saying they have room to increase an offer by five to 10 percent. That's why it's important for job-seekers to be fully aware of their value in an industry.

In addition to using sites like PayScale and, college and career coach Kat Cohen and financial journalist Jennifer Streaks say you should also use friends, mentors and colleagues as a resource for determining your pay.

"If you have friends in a similar industry, use them," says Cohen, who is the CEO and founder of educational consulting firm IvyWise. "You don't have to ask them exactly what their salary is, but you can ask something like, 'What's a competitive salary for an entry level graphic designer position in New York?'"

Once you've collected a range for how much you should be making, Streaks says you then want to ensure that the salary offered to you is at least in the middle of those two figures.

"If the range is $50,000 to $70,000 you don't want to be at $52,000," says Streaks, "because that can set the tone for how much you get paid down the road."

Click here to learn more about how to negotiate the salary you deserve.

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