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Job Seeking Advice for Recent College Grads

10/24/2011 3:36:33 PM

By Angela Rose,

It’s not a secret that the employment situation has seen little improvement in months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in September that the unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent, leaving 14 million Americans unemployed. The good news: a college education decreases future likelihood of unemployment. The unemployment rate for individuals with a high school diploma is 9.7 percent. It is only 4.2 percent for professionals with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Unfortunately, finding a job during trying economic times can be difficult for anyone – even with a college degree. And with so many experienced professionals desperate for work, competition for entry-level positions formerly reserved for recent graduates is tougher than ever. If you’re a recent college grad, make sure you’re taking the following actions.

1. Spread the word - Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job within a given industry, for example biopharma. Make sure they understand your career goals so they don’t waste their time sending you emails about unrelated positions. Tap into your college’s job placement and alumni resources. If you had an internship as part of your curriculum, approach the hiring manager. A survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed hiring managers recruited more than half of their interns in 2010.

2. Clean up your act online - Look at your Facebook photo albums and past status updates with a critical eye. Potential employers may look you up online, so get rid of anything that casts a less than professional light. With Facebook privacy settings changing frequently, it may be best to avoid posting anything unrelated to your job search, rather than relying on your understanding of the software to keep it private.

3. Work on your resume - Keep it to one page. It’s unnecessary to list all the part-time jobs you held before college. Instead, focus on your internships, volunteer and course work, clubs, associations and any part-time jobs you held while completing your degree. Take the time to solicit favorable references from professors, advisors and internship supervisors before you begin applying for jobs.

4. Target the right companies - Don’t waste your time applying for any and every job you can find. You went to school for a purpose, so research companies that hire graduates in your field. Contact them, regardless of whether they are officially “hiring” or not. Try to meet other people who work there. LinkedIn can be a handy tool for this. Consider joining a local business networking association as well.

5. Don’t get sucked into old routines - So you’re living in your parents’ basement. Your mom does your laundry. You can sleep in on Sundays (and Mondays, and Tuesdays…) Don’t get too comfortable. Even if you go back to work at the mall or waiting tables to pay a few bills, remember your goals and make time to focus on the job search every day. The sooner you find a position in your industry, the sooner you can get back out there on your own.

6. Focus on the long term – Can you find an unpaid internship or volunteer work related to your field? Is temporary work available? If so, take it. These are all opportunities that can further your long-term goals. You may find yourself tempted to go back to school. Consider this carefully before acting. Is the additional debt going to be worth it in the end? Or are you just looking for something to do with your time?

7. Nail the interview – Preparation is the key to success. You should have researched the company before sending your resume and cover letter. Go over what you learned. Make a list of questions you can ask the interviewer to show what you know. Dress appropriately, arrive on time and turn off your cell phone. Emphasize how you can benefit the team. Don’t focus solely on your own needs. When it’s over, send a thank you note.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers expect to hire 19 percent more new college graduates this year. Be persistent and you just might be one of them.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for

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