Agree that it depends on field and major. But there are some common elements. The graduate has to be enterprising and take initiative, b/c there are not that many “career ladders” waiting for the new graduate to climb onto. This means using connections, personal contacts to learn about opportunities. It means being aggressive in getting your resume and materials out there. In my daughter’s case, after majoring in ID at RISD she had a couple of jobs that she didn’t much like, and didn’t feel she was getting anywhere. But she had a firm commitment to environmental design, and put together combinations of free-lance design jobs plus writing articles about ecological issues.
After a few years she decided that she needed another credential, and applied to business schools, so that she’d have more credibility in business without being stereotyped as an artist. Her previous jobs were important to the school applications. In 2008 she “dropped out” of the labor force to earn an MBA – after intensively prepping for the GMAT, while also taking a refresher math course at a local college. With her ~5 years of varied work experience, plus very high GMAT scores, she earned an MBA from a top-10 business school and also a masters degree in sustainable systems (ecological issues). With those degrees, while also teaching as an adjunct at a couple of art schools, she has found a very good job in which she guides teams of students and young faculty who are creating start-ups.
While this may appear to be a unique profile, I think it illustrates the importance of continuous education and re-education while building experience, credentials (training, reputation, and a resume), and contacts.