Career Center offers advice for senior job search

With graduation approaching, the pressure for seniors to land jobs is growing every day. The Huffington Post reported in May 2013 that only 27 percent of graduates acquire jobs related to their majors. According to Forbes, in that same month, only 16 percent of graduating seniors polled by Accenture said they had a job waiting for them upon graduation.

Statistics like these are not exactly comforting for graduating seniors trying to balance their social lives with final exams, interviews and job applications.

The class of 2014 can be slightly more optimistic than the previous two years according to a survey conducted by The National Association of Colleges and Employers. The survey estimates that employers will hire approximately 8 percent more new college graduates in this year than they did in 2012-2013.

“That’s good news for the approximately 1.6 million students who will be entering the workforce with a Bachelor’s degree this spring,” said Business Insider’s Lydia Dallett in an online article.

The job search can still be a nerve-racking experience. For many seniors, it may be the first time they do not have a plan laid out for what’s next.

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“This is the first time for me that school is ending, and I don’t know what I am doing next,” Jillian Jacobson, a graduate student in higher education, said. “I knew after high school that I was going to college, and even after college I knew what my next step was, but now that I am graduating from graduate school, I really don’t know what’s next.”

Jacobson, who is currently an intern with the Career Center, is applying for jobs across the country in higher education, but has yet to accept any positions. Mary Kathryn Patterson, a senior majoring in public relations, has not been able to find a job in her target location either.

“I am nervous because I am planning to move to Nashville without a plan really,” she said. “I don’t have a job yet, and I am not sure when I will get one.”

Patterson and Jacobson are just two of the many soon-to-be graduates who are stressing over the future. Tiffany Goodin, program manager for student services in the Career Center, said at this point in the semester, she starts to see more and more seniors become anxious about the job search.

“It can sometimes, not always, it depends on each organization’s timeline, take several months to secure a position,” Goodin said. “I try to tell students to have realistic expectations and encourage them to do all they can to expedite the process: network, follow up, set short term goals for conducting the job search, among other things.”

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The Career Center recommends that graduating seniors who are searching for jobs follow the same tips they would recommend to anyone searching for a job at any point in life: network (both in person and online), search for and apply to job postings, and be sure to have an up-to-date resume free of typos.

Jacobson said she sees networking as the most important factor in a job search.

“Getting to know people who are at the company you want to apply at is really helpful,” she said. “Also, talking to people who are already professionals to see if they have any advice for applying to jobs in their field can be very beneficial.”

Talking to professors is another way that students can network for the job market.

“At least one professor has been really great at helping me with the job search, and the Career Center, where I work, has been helpful as well,” Jacobson said.

Patterson said building relationships with her professors is one thing she wished she would have done more.

“A lot of people may think that you don’t need to get to know your professors, but if you keep up with them, they can be a great resource for the job search,” she said. “It’s okay to reach out to them and ask for suggestions or find possible connections.”

Matt Reid, the management assistant for Enterprise Holdings, Inc., and a UA alum, said he believes the job search is made more difficult by students’ expectations. Sometimes people have to be willing to accept a less than ideal job, he said.

“My tip would be apply to as many places as possible and be humble enough to take a job with a company that you may not like so that you can at least get some experience,” he said.

Goodin said it is a good idea for students to look past their majors for job opportunities.

“When you consider your skills, interests, personality, etc., it typically opens up a whole new set of options for you to consider, rather than limiting yourself based solely on major,” she said. “I recently met with a student whose major is psychology, but she is more interested in the music industry. We started looking at jobs listed for music festivals and related sites, and she became much more excited than when we looked at jobs she thought she had to pursue based on her major and the preconceived thoughts she had about it. The college major is a factor to consider while in the job search, but it is only one of many factors.”

Learning how to manage time and be persistent with follow-ups can be a crucial aspect of job hunting, Goodin said. She said it is not only okay for students to contact employers directly, but it can even set an applicant apart and help build a relationship with a potential employer.

“I do not think it’s too forward to contact businesses directly, and I think it will make you stand out if you do.” Goodin said. “Try to be prepared for what you want to say and have a resume on hand, ready to offer them. Some companies refer candidates directly to their website, others recruit via LinkedIn, and others do a combo or something different, like CrimsonCareers, indeed.com, etc.”

Instead of focusing all of their job searches through one particular channel, graduates should look at various sites and application processes, Goodin said.

“LinkedIn and face-to-face networking is a great way to not only find positions, but also know which websites or other avenues to keep an eye on for that particular organization,” she said.

Some job search websites like Monster and indeed.com, will require more initiation to follow up with applications.

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“They are perfectly fine places to look for positions, but they are not very reactive in nature,” Goodin said. “If you’ll notice, usually when you apply for a job via Monster you do not have a way to follow up on your application, and sometimes you aren’t even sure which company is posting the position.”

For a more proactive approach, Goodin recommends networking or CrimsonCareers, the Career Center’s job search database for students and alumni.

The Career Center is still available to meet individually with a student if there are specific questions related to his or her particular search. To contact the Career Center and schedule an appointment, call 348-5848.

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