Thursday, July 8, 2010

7 Job Search Strategies in a Tough College Job Market

7 Job Search Strategies in a Tough College Job Market

Employers have had to cut their campus recruiting staff and budgets in the past three years. Since fewer employers are interviewing on campus, grads will have to seek them out in other ways and work overtime to uncover hidden job opportunities. The Recruiting Trends 2009-2010 survey fielded by Michigan State University's Collegiate Employment Research Institute gives the employers' side of the employment picture. Here are several tactics based on the employers' needs reported in the survey that new grads can use to implement a more effective job search:

1. Know your offer
Young professionals who know what they bring to an employer, can prove it by past performance, and articulate it in interviews will be most competitive in the hiring process. These graduates know their interests, values, personality and natural talents, or aptitudes, and how to translate who they are to what they do best. They know what knowledge and skills proficiencies they can deliver and what problems they can solve. They have researched the company and are knowledgeable about industry best practices, challenges and trends. They can describe how they could increase productivity or quality, increase revenue or sales, or cut expenses, demonstrated through prior experience in part-time or summer jobs, internships or co-ops, and class projects. Be one of these savvy young professionals!

2. Know your job target
In a tight job market, keeping your options wide actually works against you. When your job objective is vague or too open, it is difficult to know how to go after it or tell others what you are looking for. It's also very difficult for others to know how they can help you. Be specific without being rigid. Be focused and directed.

3. Create a list of target companies
Small companies with less than 500 employees represent the sweetest spot for new hires in this economy. Job seekers can work with a career or reference librarian, or search the internet to create a list of 25 target companies or organizations that could hire them, if the company had the funding. Grads can check with their campus Career Services staff for assistance, or ask if their alma mater provides access to an online database of potential employers called CareerSearch.

4. Network with a clear purpose
The Recruiting Trends 2009-2010 survey indicates that young adults who are connected and learn how to work their networks to their advantage will have a competitive edge in their search for employment. Employers like to hire candidates recommended by current employees. At your target companies, can you or others you know identify someone as a contact? Introduce yourself to them via email or a letter and follow up with a phone call. As they get to know you, perhaps you can request that they submit your resume internally through an employee referral program.

Create a professional profile on LinkedIn if you haven't already and start building your contacts group. Scan the contacts belonging to your contacts for possible bridges into your target companies or career field. Pretend you are an employer or recruiter and cast a critical eye on your Facebook page to see if any modifications need to be made. Small companies use social media to source candidates. Don't miss out!

5. Study company web sites
In spite of smaller recruiting and advertising budgets, companies will always post positions on their web sites. Better yet, use your networking prowess to uncover newly-open positions which haven't hit the company web site or online job bank web sites. Stay ahead of your competition.

6. Take advantage of local job search resources
In addition to fully utilizing your college's Career Services resources, turn to the community career centers and
job search groups in your area. For little or no cost, you will have access to programs on job search best practices and volunteer coaches to help you one-on-one with resume editing and interviewing practice. Join an accountability group to ramp up your search quality and speed. You'll mingle with other job seekers, sharing job leads, inside tips, and learn from their wealth of experiences. Expect that most of the members are mid-career adults. Tap into their life and work wisdom, and you'll be far ahead of the game.

7. Be positive and persistent without being pesty
This is the toughest job market most of us have even seen. Each blind alley and rejection gets you one step closer to employment. Shake turndowns off and say, "Next!" just as top athletes do while in the heat of the game. Keep your focus on discovering as many job leads as possible, and remember that you only need one job, one great match between candidate and hiring manager.

© Copyright 2010, Career Vision. Article reprinted with permission.

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