From Campus To Career: 3 Job Hunting Tips For 2011 Graduates

For many college seniors, January often signifies the start of the job hunting season.  Or rather the start of the anxiety related to having to think about what they can do with that degree or major. Many college seniors (and don't worry plenty of students who will complete graduate programs) have no idea of what careers are available to them.  The current job market conditions do not help.  According to the latest NACE employment survey, only 36% of the class of 2010 graduates that applied for jobs before graduation had an offer by graduation.  For the class of 2007, this number was 50%.

With this jobless recovery, it might be very tempting to avoid thinking about careers by going to graduate school.  Beware though, as a graduate degree is in fact a specialization.  As such, a graduate degree will indeed open doors to more specialized roles, while simultaneously closing a number of other professional doors.  Furthermore, the cost of graduate school loans will further shrink your professional options post-graduation.  Indeed, the more loan obligations you have, the more money you will have to make to pay them back, and the less job options you will have.

So what can 2011 graduating students do to build their own bridge from campus to career?  First, remember that people get hired everyday.  Second, know that responsible career options are growing, which means that there are more options now to align your values and your paycheck than ever before!  Over the next 5 years, 10 million green jobs are projected to be created globally (including an estimated 5 million green jobs in the US).  Fueled by responsible consumer demand, the number of career opportunities in responsible businesses across industries is also growing.  So what can you do to secure a job that will enable you to get business done better?

Job Hunting Tip #1 - Know what you like to do, for now - The hardest part by far in your career and job search is to be able to articulate clearly and succinctly what you would like to do professionally.  Learn more about the number of growing careers in responsible marketing, responsible finance, ethical operations, and transparent communications.  Get curious about the variety of responsible career options available in education, healthcare, sustainable food and agriculture, and renewable energy.  The more you read job descriptions, the more you will get a feel for what makes you tick and what would be a good fit for you.  According to statistics from the US Department of Labor, emerging professionals are likely to have an average of 10-14 careers by the age of 38.  Therefore, go and pick something that you like for now, it is likely not to be a long-term commitment anyway.  Furthermore, through this first experience, you will learn what you like and don't like to do, which will in turn inform your next career move.

Job Hunting Tip #2 - Don't go at it alone - Make an appointment with your career center staff, attend workshops, or take the time to explore the valuable (and often free) resources available to you online and through your library.  You might be shocked to learn that you are not the first graduating student freaking out about what to do next in a tough economy.  Many of those who have been in a similar situation have paid it forward, providing great resources to support future students that have to launch careers in a tough economy.  Leverage these resources to go from anxiety to confidence as you turn your values into a career that is both financially and personally rewarding.  The new 'Be Bold' campaign by Echoing Green, and the Idealist.org to nonprofit careers for first time job seekers are great starting points to help you narrow down your preferences, and design a job search plan within or across a variety of sectors.

Job Hunting Tip #3 - Feel you are not qualified for a job?  Apply anyway! - If you fulfill all but one or two of the requirements, and have most of the preferred skills and experiences listed in the job description, apply for the job.  Many times, hiring managers are posting job descriptions that are more wish lists than realistic descriptions of possible candidates.  Therefore, when sending your tailored cover letter and resume, highlight your most relevant experiences and education to emphasize how close your profile is to that of the ideal candidate described in the job posting.

What other job huntings tips to you have for 2011 graduates?

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