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ISU career placement professionals provide grads survival tips for tighter job market
AMES, Iowa -- With economic indicators suggesting that the country is moving towards a recession, it could become a jobs jungle out there for this spring's college graduates. They may have to compete against more experienced, out-of-work candidates for those entry-level jobs.
Yet promising job prospects still exist for eager graduates who truly apply themselves in the search, say four Iowa State University career placement professionals. They point out that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (www.naceweb.org) Spring 2008 jobs' outlook still indicates that employers will hire eight percent more new grads from the Class of 2008 than they hired from the previous year's class.
Still, this spring's new job seekers have to be well-prepared in order to compete. The ISU careers experts offer them these tips:
For those who had work experience in college, like internships, the ISU experts say it's time to call on those contacts for help. According to Steve Kravinsky, director of career placement for ISU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, networking is one of the most important aspects of the job search as a way to both identify news job leads and get some internal recommendations for one of those jobs.
"Networking is still the number one way to unearth opportunities because employers feel better about a recommendation from a trusted colleague than just receiving a piece of paper," Kravinsky said.
"Put the time into the job search. Make a plan and send multiple resumes, because students can expect only a 10 to 15 percent return response rate," said Kathy Wieland, program coordinator of ISU's Business Career Services. "The job search is there and ready when you are."
"After working with thousands of students, I truly believe that if they apply themselves to the professional job search, they will find a job that matches their major and their personality -- but they need to make it a priority," said Kravinsky.
While the experts agree that graduate and undergraduate job searches have made large movements to the Web with more companies using technology-based recruitment to receive resumes and student contact information, they warn applicants against relying exclusively on technology -- particularly the large commercial job sites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com.
"Today most candidates need to use online job postings to some extent, even if their primary search strategy is through networking," said Mark Peterson, program coordinator of the Business Graduate Program. "The majority of job applicants and new hires get their jobs through networking and internship programs, not merely by responding to online job postings."
Wieland says behavioral interviewing continues to be commonly used. It puts focus on specific situations, conflicts and strengths/weaknesses designed to encourage the candidate to draw answers from their work experience, extracurricular activities and leadership roles.
"The best way to prepare for behavioral interviewing is to come up with at least five situations from previous work and leadership experiences that allow you to describe your strengths and weaknesses," she said. "Be able to talk about yourself as if you were a product."
New MBAs can also expect other interviewing techniques.
"At the MBA level, you see more case interviews in the second round of interviews where students are asked to solve a case," said Peterson. "Team interviews are another method used by some MBA companies in order to see group dynamics and team skills."
Regardless of the interview, the ISU experts urge candidates to prepare through mock interviews.
"A resume doesn't get you a job, it gets you an interview," said Mike Gaul, director of career placement at ISU's Agriculture Career Services. "Interviewing is an art and practice makes perfect."
"Students' worst enemy is their own procrastination," Kravinsky said. "One of the biggest downfalls of students today is that they are not researching the company or organization before they interview."
"Emphasize your academics, internships, leadership opportunities, study abroad and extracurricular activities," said Gaul. "These things carry tremendous weight on a resume. In an interview, they enhance your array of interpersonal skills."
Peterson says employers are seeking a higher level of problem analysis from MBA students, with many recruiters wanting 'on the job' examples of work.
"Pre-MBA industry experience is what sets apart MBA graduates," he said.
The ISU experts all contend that jobs are still plentiful for new grads, in spite of the recent economic news. And successful candidates can't take a defeatist attitude into the search process.
"College recruiting lags the market. It is yet to be seen how the recent declines will impact (employment) recruiting activity," Wieland said. "Generally speaking, good students are able to find good jobs regardless of the ups and downs of the market."
Four ISU career placement professionals say that while the job prospects for this spring's graduates is not as gloomy as the economy, new job seekers have to be well-prepared to gain employment. They offer them tips to be successful in their searches.
"College recruiting lags the market. It is yet to be seen how the recent declines will impact (employment) recruiting activity. Generally speaking, good students are able to find good jobs regardless of the ups and downs of the market."