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Even with internships and networking experience, some students approaching the end of their college careers are nervous about entering the job market and unclear about what they want to do, while others are chomping at the bit and ready to get started. Either way, students are entering a more competitive job market, and while there are jobs to be found, students should not wait until after graduation to begin their search for the right employment. As older workers retire, businesses will be looking for new employees. Kitty McGrath, Director of Career Services at Arizona State University, said talented, skilled people will be able to find work, particularly in healthcare and other professions that offer services for elderly people and those careers the retirees will be leaving. However, said McGrath, students should begin their job search up to a year before their graduation. She recommends researching different job sectors and specific companies in those sectors. It is beneficial to read business publications and watch stock prices for businesses at which you think you may be interested in working. Learning all you can about the profession you want to pursue is also just good sense. You can see what jobs are projected to have openings and what the salaries are.
Although the current economic situation is intimidating to everyone, job seekers included, career experts say job hunters can’t let the worries be reflected in them. While the economy is suffering, there is still a need for those with skills and demonstrated abilities, and a place for qualified workers. Maintaining a positive attitude will make all the difference. Elaine Varelas is a managing partner at a career management firm in Boston. She recommends focusing on your best qualities and presenting yourself to employers with those positives. She notes that a mature worker can view and present him or herself as being old – or they can play up their years of solid experience. It’s all in the approach and the attitude. Additionally, Varelas pointed out that no one likes to be around a negative person, and a positive spin will help someone get hired, regardless of their background or experience. To help maintain this positive outlook even when engaged in something that can be discouraging like job hunting, Varelas recommends setting reasonable goals each day and rewarding yourself when you reach them. She said to sell your strengths, focus on all you’ve accomplished, and tell potential employers how you can help them in this economy.
While the majority of job hunters put the search on hold through the holidays, they’re missing out on golden opportunities to advance themselves. Networking is the way 80 percent of jobs are found, and the holidays are a perfect time to take advantage of networking opportunities. Career transitions specialist Marcia Merrill suggested that holiday networking events are great places to make connections for your job search. Look at local networking sites, the Chamber of Commerce’s holiday gathering, Google networking events, and check the local newspaper for any holiday gatherings appropriate for your interests. All of these gatherings are places you may meet that golden contact that will lead you to a new position. In the meantime, there’s the bonus that you’ll probably get some free food in the bargain. Merrill said that while the economy is tough, people are still getting hired. However, networking becomes more valuable to employers who are hesitant to spend thousands on a job search. They are very likely to interview a candidate who is recommended by someone they know and trust. So don’t pack away the interview suit just because of the impending holidays – make the social events an important part of your job search.
During the job search process, it’s difficult to present a polished, professional appearance when you don’t have a regular income. However, there are several tips that can keep you solvent while trying to find a job. Amy Lindgren is a specialist in saving money. She suggests several tactics to excel at a job search without losing another wad of money in the process. First, avoid lunch meetings when you’re trying to network. Meet for coffee, then if you pick up the tab, it won’t be as high. Better yet, offer to meet your contact at his or her office. This saves them time and you money – a win –win for everyone. Avoid parking charges by arriving early for meetings and using a meter, or simply take a bus. There’s no need to buy a new outfit for the job hunt. A secondhand suit can work just as well, if you shop carefully and pay attention to the quality and fit. You may already have something in your closet that can be upgraded or reworked to be adequate business attire. Shine your shoes and replace the soles if they wear out. A quality pair of shoes can last for many years. Use the library for job hunting tips and free Internet.
According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, the job market lost 159,000 jobs in September. With that kind of tightening of the employment market, those new to work more efficiently by outsourcing some aspects of their job search. This online career search firm helps a candidate get his or her resume out to more places in a lower amount of time. By using a team of job-searching professionals located in India, the company is able to place resumes with far more companies than one job seeker could himself or herself. For busy college students looking toward graduation or a person who is currently employed but facing layoffs, the service can be an invaluable time saver. While they work or concentrate on finishing school with strong grades and marketable skills, the JobSerf service generates leads and interviews. A recent graduate said the service allowed her to maximize her time and still get many interviews in her field. She said that instead of applying for one or two jobs each day, the service allowed the professionals to apply to 20 or 30 jobs. The job searching staff knows the Internet job sites and the application processes for each, allowing efficient filing of resumes.
The State of Massachusetts offers a “one-stop” career center for the unemployed in the state, and business is unfortunately booming for those employed by the center. The month of October 2008 showed an 111 per cent increase in the numbers of people seeking work in October of 2007. This past month, the center offered assistance to 28,072 people, up from 13,308 who sought help last year. Not surprisingly, this follows a year of steadily rising unemployment in the state. The unemployment number for October 2008 was 5.3 percent, while in 2007, the number was at 4.4 percent. Officials at the center say they often find 30 people lined up outside when they arrive for work at 8:30 a.m., and on some busy days, they have such a crowd that they have to close the center to new clients by 10 a.m., because they are not able to serve them that day. They have to instruct the clients to return the next day – and to perhaps try waiting in line before the doors open at 8:30. There are only two employees at the Quincy, Mass. center who are able to access the computer system to file new jobless insurance claims, according to the center director.
Those professionals who offer job-seeking services like executive recruiters and career coaches have seen a sharp upturn in business as the economy weakens and layoffs are more common. Recruiting firms and coaches say maintaining emotional distance is important as they counsel both executives and lower level employees who have had drastic lifestyle changes as a result of the recent downturn in the economy. One recruiter said several recently laid-off executives have told him they are in danger of losing their homes if they aren’t employed soon, and another confided that he had lost most of his retirement savings with the recent collapse of a large bank. While they try to maintain a distance; coaches, recruiters and job counselors say they are doing everything they can to help. A Boston career coach said she has discounted her prices for those who are out of work, and a recruiter in Jacksonville, FL said she would not turn a client away, although it means she often works until 11 p.m. Career counselors in New York say they are being more creative and doing more “hand holding” with clients these days, but they say they are happy to do it.
Job seekers need to use every resource they have, and the Internet is a powerful resource for finding a job. It just became even more powerful with the addition of www.VirtualJobCoach.com to the Career Management Software, Inc. stable of products. The new website allows job hunters to interface with an intuitive new layout, called a dashboard, that gives them access to a plethora of tools to assist them in finding a job, processes, advice from experts in the field, and templates for resumes, references, etc. By using this centralized “control center,” the job hunter is able to focus his or her efforts, stay organized, utilize time wisely, and ultimately find a position more quickly and easily. Cliff Hakim is the author of “We Are All Self-Employed” and “Rethinking Work.” He is in favor of the concept of a control center that helps the job hunter stay focused. He notes that the process of finding a job is complex and can be confusing. With leads to follow, networking to do, and resumes out across the city or country, a tool to keep the search organized can be invaluable. The virtual job coach site provides just this kind of service.
In the competitive market of today’s economy, job seekers must be creative and stand out in order to catch the attention of potential employers. Submitting online resumes is not likely to land a job seeker an ideal position, and may not even get them an interview. Cindy Caldwell, a creative recruiter, said résumés need to pop when an employer sees them, without crossing the line into being unprofessional. Job seekers should seek as much leverage as they can get. Additionally, the resume and work samples need to be easily accessed by a potential employer. They need to be in a standard format, a quick loading format, and not a MySpace page used as a profile. Experts suggest other creative ways to get noticed. For example, apply at companies who aren’t seeking candidates. If you send them a resume and a letter highlighting your skills and what you could do to help them, they may hire you and save themselves the expense of a search. In this day of electronic communication, the simple act of picking up the phone and making a personal call can help a candidate stand out. Many employers appreciate that personal touch.
For college students who will be graduating soon, those who have already walked the path have some advice for you – take an internship, practice, work for free — whatever you do, get some experience. Recent college graduates are finding that without experience, this job market is extremely tough for them. Emily Willard graduated in May and is finding it difficult to land full time employment. She said she’s been in school for several years, and has no job experience. Her major didn’t require an internship for graduation, but now she wishes it had. Bo Burdette graduates in December, and he is already feeling the pressure grow. He said the college he attends sends constant emails about career fairs and opportunities for networking. However, he said, he could use help in getting set up with an internship. His lack of experience in a practical setting has already proven to be a detriment to him in the job search. Other universities do offer help in securing internships or may even provide a job co-op program. Jennifer Turner was part of a co-op all her years at college, and hightly recommends it. She said it is great experience and helped guide her career choice.