Graduating Students: Tips for How to Propel your Job Search in an Uncertain Economy

By Jennifer Janviere

With the spring season now upon us, soon-to-be college graduates face the somewhat daunting prospect of searching for those coveted full-time jobs. This is traditionally a time of excitement and anticipation of the future; a time when the hard work of the last four years culminates in the accomplishment of earning that piece of paper proclaiming readiness to start the next phase of life. But continued news of low employment numbers around the country and competition for jobs are enough to cause even the most confident new graduate to break into a cold sweat.

What are students who will soon be leaving the familiarity of college for the “real world” to do?

While it’s important  to be aware of the challenges that a graduating student faces, it’s equally important not to allow negative news reports to be paralyzing. The best defense a student can arm himself or herself with is a good plan of action before leaving school. Having a current and professionally-written resume is a good place to start. Tools such as OptimalResume.com and the university’s Career Services Center are available to assist students along the way. The Career Services Center can be of help to those putting together a first resume to students who don’t know where to start, and can provide valuable feedback to those who have already written one.

Students should be assertive about cultivating contacts and honing networking skills while still in college. Linkedin and Facebook are both well known resources for building a network of contacts in your field of interest, as is reaching out to alumni have also graduated in your major. Here in Milwaukee, there are also many local opportunities available, such as the Business Marketing Association Young Professionals, the Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals and Spreenkler’s monthly professional meet-up events. Meeting people face-to-face may seem a little bit old-fashioned in the digital age, but it can be extremely valuable for making personal connections that provide that extra competitive edge. These events also provide good practice interacting with others, which helps build confidence. Not to mention helping you perfect that all-important “elevator pitch.”

Another tool of interest: last year, Jobster.com launched an application for Facebook designed to help users connect with decision makers at companies where they want to work (referred to as “Talent Networks”). This application also lets a user easily convert his or her Facebook profile to a resume for potential employers to view.

So to all the graduating seniors: keep an optimistic outlook, be patient yet persistent, continue building your network and keep your focus on the future ahead as you reach the academic finish line.

Jennifer Janviere is a multimedia specialist and instructor in the Diederich College of Communication.

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