By Judi Perkins
Things Are Better Than You Might Think
Colleges will soon release thousands of students into a depressed market. Yet they have less to be depressed about than the rest of the workforce. Two factors in their favor: college grads have a rosier outlook by comparison, and the competition for existing openings will be primarily between the hordes of graduates.
Higher paid, experienced workers are getting laid off and remaining employees are taking pay cuts. To balance the stress load, companies are hiring new grads. Employers know that the economy will eventually rebound and that hiring graduates seeds for future growth.
According to the Job Outlook 2009 Hiring Report by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), current projected hiring for the Class of 2009 shows very little growth over the hiring levels for the Class of 2008, but there's no expected decline. Simply put, when it comes to a new grad being hired, it will be the same as it's always been, but a little more intense. Now, even the top grads will have to work at it a bit and those who aren't at the top of their game will have to work even harder to make up for it, lest they be left behind.
What's a soon-to-be college graduate to do?
Get Your Act Together
Be mature, focused, motivated and self directed. Even if you didn't get involved in collegiate activities and kept your grades solid, all is not lost. You can jumpstart your job search now as easily as anyone else. And, you'll be ahead of those who don't plan to start until after graduation.
Create Your Own Opening
Make a list of companies for whom you'd like to work (knowing why you want to work there), and approach them about taking you on part-time. Be ready to tell them, not why it will suit you, but why it's of benefit to them. Considering the way companies are short-staffed these days, if you can create a need for yourself and are willing to make yourself indispensable, you might have an in. One tip: find the hiring authority of your applicable department and call or write a letter. Skip HR.
Keep Your Options Broad, but Don't Be Indiscriminate
The trick is to be focused, but diverse within that focus. You'll impress potential employers the most by knowing what you want and being able to tell them, not only why they fit that picture, but how you'll be able to help them. That might mean running errands as an understudy.
Remember, It Starts with Your Head
If you're determined to find a company where you can contribute, you'll find a place to make it happen. If you're quite sure the market for college grads is terrible and there's nothing out there, it's unlikely that you'll find something.
Know Your Value
Know your value and be able to back that up with examples. Then, start pounding the pavement. It might be a little tougher than in previous years, but it's not impossible.