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Employment Advice for New Grads

written by: Brenda Barrett•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 4/19/2012

The late nights studying and partying at the frat house time is over. It's now time to embark on the adventurous world of job hunting. Here is some useful employment advice for new college graduates to navigate the stormy seas of the job market.

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    Unfortunately the job market has shrunken in recent years and the job demand far exceeds the supply in certain occupational areas. This is not necessarily bad news for new college grads; it is simply a call for more creative ways to seek employment. A few months ago it was reported that one young man in the midst of the financial crisis and job losses went on the street in his business clothes with a sandwich sign displaying his resume in the middle of New York’s business district; he was hired by the end of the week. The man had a plan and every job hunter who wants success will have to develop their own unique job campaign. Hence, the first bit of employment advice for college graduates is to campaign for a job.

    Job Campaign

    If you haven’t already done so you will need to conceptualize a job campaign. This job campaign will allow you to answer four critical questions:

    1. What do I want to do?
    2. When will I begin my job search?
    3. Where do I want to work?
    4. How will I go about getting a job?
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    What do I want to do?

    This question is one that, if the statistics are to be believed, 40% of college graduates can’t answer. The answer to this question would reflect your self image and personal qualities. Your answer should incorporate your preferences, beliefs, values, interests, skills and attitudes. Construct your ideal job description and list your knowledge, skills, abilities (KSA) and compare the two to see if they correspond.

    When will I begin my job search?

    Fix a definite date for starting work, this will allow you to plan a thorough job campaign. A typical job campaign takes 18 hours a week for 5-8 months. When you plan ahead you may produce better and quicker results. For example, if you have a vague idea that you want to work in a certain industry or a certain firm after graduation, then apply to them at least 5 months before graduation. Many persons make the mistake of starting their job campaign after graduation.

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    Where do I want to work?

    After you have clarified a personal direction and decided on a set time for your job campaign, you can start identifying and evaluating specific work opportunities. This is where your creativity will be handy. Do your job hunting as far and as wide as possible. Tap into your social network, let your friends and family know you are looking, join professional associations, contact private personnel firms, contact employers directly and of course use the internet. There are numerous sites that can help you along.

    Do not buy into the following myths:

    • Larger companies pay more than small to midsized firms- The opposite may be true in today’s economy the small and midsized firms are the ones that are doing the hiring.
    • Stay away from companies that are downsizing- The company may be downsizing in a certain product area or offering buyout or early retirement packages for older and higher paid employees and are seeking to replace them with entry level staff.
    • Do not look for jobs during holiday or vacation seasons- Employers hire throughout the year.
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    How do I go about getting a job?

    Gather as much data as possible about your prospective employers. Use company brochures, websites, public financial information (including salary information), placement office staff, insights from current employees, anything that you can get your hands on to help provide a clear picture of the firm. Avoid using mass mailing procedure where you change the firms address and just send out the same generic letter to several firms. To make your letter stand out from the crowd include some of your research in the letters to show that you have some grasp of what the company is about.

    There are many creative ways that you can utilize when seeking employment. As the popular saying goes ‘seeking a job is a job.' Don’t despair if the job market seems like a hostile place for new graduates, just utilize the employment advice for college graduates above, tweaking it to fit your situation as you job hunt after graduating from college.