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Graduating in a Competitive Job Market

Employers expect to hire 13 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2013 than they did from the Class of 2012, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2013 survey.  Here are a few ways to take advantage of this trend and stay on top:

Plan Ahead: 

  • A degree does not guarantee you a job, it qualifies you to apply.  Look at your classmates as your competition in the job market.  Pay attention to your specific strengths and what makes you competitive. 
  • Internships answer the “How am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me?” question. 
  • Leadership is important, but go for quality rather than quantity.  Recruiters will be more impressed if you have a significant role in one or two organizations rather than a long list of insignificant memberships.
  • Related work experience is ideal, but any work experience is better than no work experience.  A demonstrated work ethic or positive reference from a past employer can be important.
  • Throughout school, put aside items such as writing samples, design samples, projects, awards, evaluations, etc., for future reference.  You may need to pull a portfolio together on short notice. 
  • Get recommendations from professors while they still remember you.
  • Recruiters are using the web to learn about you.  Your personal and professional lives are not as separate as you think.  Review your FaceBook page.  Google yourself to see what a prospective employer might find and clean up what you can.  
  • Develop a profile on a professional networking site like LinkedIn before you graduate. 

The Search and Application Process:

  • Be flexible in your search in terms of geographic area, size of the company, etc.  Remember, you don’t have to remain at this job for the rest of your life.  
  • If you can’t find your “perfect” job immediately, consider looking for one that might provide the experience you need to get that perfect job down the road.
  • Utilize all available resources (want ads, company websites, job boards, networking, career centers, etc.)
  • Don’t wait.  You may want to postpone vacation plans.  The “best” jobs will go quickly.
  • An employer will use a variety of methods to quickly “weed out” candidates.  A resume or cover letter with grammatical errors or an incomplete application are just two examples.
  • Follow the employer's instructions exactly.  If the employer says "no phone calls" in the job ad, don’t call.
  • A resume needs to offer something significant and specific to the employer’s needs - not be a life history.  Consider it your first opportunity to get a competitive edge.  If you want it read, make it readable. 

The Interview:

  • Prepare.  Research the employer and news about your field so that you can add to discussions during an interview. 
  • Practice.  Find out how you come across in an interview.  You can get hired even if you are not the best qualified on paper. 
  • Even if the company culture is casual, the interview may not be.  Present a professional image.  Demonstrate how well you can represent the company.
  • Be prepared to give specific examples of anything you have indicated on your resume.
  • If you choose not to appear for an interview, call and cancel.  It’s a small world within industries; you don’t know who the recruiter you just stood up, might know.
  • Don’t forget the thank-you note.

Unsure about any of these or related issues?  Visit Us!


Career Services Office

Cohen Hall 203

Monday and Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 


Monday and Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.