This is the month for college graduations, and after the celebrations are over, roughly two million new alumni will be out in the “real world.” Although it is quite an exciting time in the lives of these students, it has also become a time of great anxiety. Students and their parents worry about the job market and which potential opportunities may be available. Many students leave college with a great deal of debt and, as a result, are even more nervous about finding the right job to not only lead them on a positive career path but also put them on stronger financial footing. The job market has been challenging for new graduates overall in the past few years, but there are some hopeful signs as it appears the market has slightly improved for the class of 2012. The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently surveyed employers and found that companies expect to hire 29,237 new graduates this year, a 10.2% improvement from the hiring of 26,529 college graduates from the class of 2011.
Although the market is still not robust and needs to improve, many students are completely unprepared to conduct an effective job search. Making the process even more difficult, this year’s graduates face competition from 2011 grads who are still seeking a job in their field. Many students have not taken advantage of the career services offerings on campus and have become reliant on applying for jobs online. Unfortunately, their resumes become lost in a sea of thousands of others due to the volume of applicants and the desire of employers to be highly selective. Listed below are some helpful hints for college graduates that will accelerate their job search process:
- Develop a Job Search Strategy: Create a plan that outlines which jobs or functions fit your interests and strengths; identify a list of target companies you would like to approach as well as highlight your geographical preferences.
- Develop a Presentation on You: Be prepared to present a personal “commercial” on your specific career interests and jobs or internships you have previously held and ensure you are able to articulate your strengths. Present this information with enthusiasm, good eye contact and a positive approach. This preparation will help you at networking meetings and interviews.
- Network, Network, Network: Most new graduates do very little networking. Without a doubt, networking is most likely the way you will find your new job. Identify family, friends, former employers, fellow alumni of your alma mater and neighbors who can endorse your candidacy. Meet with them to discuss your interests and ask for suggestions of people and companies you should be meeting with in your job search. You should walk out of every meeting with a referral.
- Use Your Research Skills: When you hear about a job opening, definitely apply online for the position but also network to find someone in the company who can put your resume on the top of the pile. Research companies and identify employees in those companies who may be able to facilitate introductions for you. Social media tools should help, especially LinkedIn.
- Develop a Robust LinkedIn Profile: New graduates need LinkedIn profiles. Several young professionals sense that LinkedIn is only for mature or seasoned executives – it is not! Employers will look for you on LinkedIn, so ensure you have a profile and that it is robust and comprehensively describes your background and interests.
This is the time to be assertive, be visible and meet with people to let them know your interests. You may think you are imposing on others, but most people really do want to help. Your credentials will get lost in the maze if you sit behind a computer and only post your resume on job boards. Get motivated to go out and talk to others about yourself. You might be surprised how much you learn and, at the same time, meet some interesting people. Good luck to the class of 2012 – you have a great deal to offer and we hope you find that first job soon so you can contribute to making this world an even better place.