by Torski Dobson-Arnold
The fact that the US unemployment rate continues to grow with little to no end in sight leaves a less than favorable economy for many new college graduates. According to a survey by High Flyers Research of 100 firms, graduate recruitment has been cut by 17 percent for 2009. It’s worse in the financial sector, and entry-level jobs are 47 percent fewer. As cutbacks and reductions spell out fewer jobs, recent college graduates will have to become more creative and more driven than ever before in their job search efforts.
Professional career specialists recommend that graduates take a very proactive approach to their job search process. Many college students are opting to delay graduation for more specialized course study or they dive right into graduate studies. However, if a college student chooses to go directly into the job market, there are a few things to consider in navigating these murky, uncertain waters.
Think globally and broaden your horizons. Even though your heart might be set on working in a specific city or even a specific company, dig deeper and check out opportunities in non-traditional settings like non-profit organizations. Also, don’t write off small businesses that you may not have heard of before. The next job may be right in your backyard.
Use your internship contacts to network and build relationships within target companies. Remember the internship you completed the summer after your sophomore year? Get in contact with that supervisor and reintroduce yourself. Offer to take on any paid experience or volunteer to keep your skills up-to-date and fresh. While some employers have slowed hiring initiatives right now, they may be open to a helping hand as most are tasked with doing more with less. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals and follow-up with them in a timely fashion to introduce yourself and skill set.
Take advantage of the informational interview. As you build your network, ask for the informational interview. Use this time, not to ask about jobs, but to learn more about the needs of the organization, its culture, and how your skills and talents can be of value. If done correctly, statistics show that informational interviews can translate into a job offer much quicker than those conducted in response to a job advertisement.
Protect and enhance your online brand. Did you know that you have a professional brand already? Companies are increasingly using the Internet to make connections and assess the professional character of job applicants. Do you know what is revealed about you in an online search of your name? If not, try it and see what comes up. If you feel the information is an inaccurate representation of who you are as a potential applicant, make a commitment to build up a better online presence for yourself. Social networking sites are a great way to do this and connect with the decision-makers. Just be careful at how you are represented online.
Develop a job search plan and stick to it! Enlist the assistance and services of career specialists on campus as it relates to tools needed in effective job search plans such as résumé and cover letter development, behavioral interview strategies, gathering company contacts, goal-setting and networking. Set small goals and meet them on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Recessions are common unfortunate occurrences but with the right tactics, you will outlast this one. I am confident that those with the most tenacity and determination will be those successful in their job search strategy in the end. Will you be one of them?
Torski Dobson-Arnold is a Career Confidence Coach. www.yourcareerconfidence.com