Graduating in a Recession: How to Be One of the 20% Who Will Get a Job

The job market is more competitive than ever before thanks to the recession. New reports suggest that only 20 percent of new grads have been able to get a job. Here are a few tips to make sure you are one of the select few.

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A new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers suggests that it is becoming increasingly difficult for college students to find a job after graduation. According to the organization's annual survey, only 19.7 percent of 2009 grads have been able to secure a position since leaving school. This is significantly lower than the 51 percent who were able to claim a job in 2007 and the 26 percent who landed a job in 2007.

If you are one of the many new grads struggling for a foothold, there are steps you can take to make sure you are one of the select group of grads who secures a position this year:

Devise the Perfect Resume

Your resume is a key component in your job search. If it is not absolutely perfect--very few are--it will be ignored in favor of a resume that is. You can improve your resume by having someone else look it over and make suggestions. You can also use many of the free tools and resources that are available online to tweak the information you already have. A few good tools to try include: Pongo, Emurse, and Resume Improved. Career services departments, such as the one at Elon University, have also been seeing good results with Wordle, an online app that generates 'word clouds' from resume text you provide. Clouds can be analyzed to determine the impact of your word choices.

Network, Network, Network

Networking has never been more important or any easier. There are dozens of sites that have been created specifically for networking professionals who either need a job or want more opportunities in their field. Some of the most popular professional networking sites include LinkedIn, XING and Ziggs. Of course, you shouldn't limit yourself to the web alone. Face-to-face interactions at parties and professional events can yield just as many (if not more) opportunities for job hunters who are seeking work in the immediate area. You can locate networking events through sites like Netparty.

Look Outside the Box

A lot of students had a specific job in mind for themselves when they first began college and are stubbornly clinging to that idea now that they have graduated. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic approach to job hunting in a recession. It is essential that you are flexible and willing to explore a wide range of jobs that are both inside your field and out.

Move

If you can't find work where you are at, you may need to consider moving to get the type of job you want. The recession has impacted different areas in different ways. Going where the work exists may just be the easiest way to find a job in a rough economy. You can secure a position before you move by searching and applying for jobs on sites like Monster and CareerBuilder.

Don't Give Up

'Job Hunter' may not have been the position you had in mind when you first graduated but until you find a different occupation, it is your full-time job. You should try to spend at least 40 hours each week searching for jobs, networking, practicing for interviews, and participating in other tasks that will help you accomplish your ultimate goal of employment.

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