College grad job search in challenging times

Q. I am graduating from college in January 2010 and I am very nervous about full-time employment opportunities in this recession. What can a soon-to-be college grad do to make themselves more attractive to an employer?

A. A college education makes a difference over a lifetime of the US worker. Research indicates that those full-time US workers who hold a college degree earn more over their lifetimes compared to those full-time workers in the US who don’t hold a college degree. But back to your job search.

Here are some job search suggestions for soon-to-be college grads:
– Use the career services office of your college or university. They often have job postings and leads on employment opportunities. Additionally they can provide advice on resume writing and job search strategies. Many sponsor networking events and workshops that may be very beneficial.
– Familiarize yourself with online posting boards. Bostonworks/Monster, Craig’s List and DICE (for more technical roles) are good resources.
– Networking is still the best way to land a job. Talk to your professors or professionals in your field of interest. Family friends and neighbors may also be good resources.
– Think back to summer and part-time jobs or internships. Are there connections there that could be helpful?
– Begin drafting your resume. Think about drafting a few different versions. It should be crisp, clean and in a readable (and scannable) font. Have a few trusted friends review it before you begin sending it out.
– Never turn down an offer of an introduction or an informational interview. These are precious and worthwhile sources of information and perhaps job leads.
– Job hunting is difficult work. Set yourself a quantitative goal and stick to it. For example: 5 face-to-face meetings beginning Jan 2, 2010.
– Join a professional association in your field of interest. Many professional associations offer discounts to full-time students so this may be the opportune time to join.
– Talk to other recent grads about their successes and even missteps. Learn from those experiences.
– When looking at job offers, money is important but experience and opportunity may be even more important.
– Consider temporary or contract roles. These opportunities can lead to full-time roles and also give you valuable professional experience and references.
Don’t despair. The employment market will rebound and may even show signs of improvement before your January 2010 graduation date.

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