Advice For Entry-Level Job Seekers


This year’s crop of college graduates are entering the best entry-level job market in three years, but the competition for positions will continue to be fierce, according to the workplace authorities at global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which offered some tips to help recent graduates improve their chances of job-search success.

“The key to success for graduates is to be aggressive.  Yes, the job market is improving, but they are not only competing against their fellow graduates, they are also competing with people who graduated last year and the year before and may already have some work experience under their belt.  Job seekers, regardless of age or experience, cannot afford to take a passive approach to the job search in the current environment,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

College graduates could not be entering the job market at a better time.  While the previous two spring graduating classes entered during a jobless recovery, this year’s class is entering the job market just as it finally appears to be gaining real momentum.  April marked the third consecutive month in which payrolls experienced net gains exceeding 200,000.  Since February 1, the private sector has added 760,000 new workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Further evidence of the improving college grad job market is found in a survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which revealed that hiring of new graduates across all degrees and majors will increase by 21 percent.

“Despite the vastly improved conditions, college grads cannot simply send out some resumes and wait by the phone waiting for interview requests.  Many young job seekers may still have to settle for a position that pays less than expected or is not quite on the career path they envisioned,” noted Challenger.


Start job search immediately.   Some college graduates might be tempted to enjoy one last summer of freedom before embarking on their career path.  However, such a decision could be detrimental to the job search and cause prospective employers to question your commitment and work ethic.

Include volunteer work on resume, in interviews.  Young job seekers often omit volunteer work from their resumes and interviews, particularly if the volunteer work is not associated with their chosen career path.  They reason, “Volunteering at the homeless shelter has no relation to pharmaceutical sales, so why mention it.”  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Volunteer work tells prospective employers a lot about your personality, character, work ethic and commitment, all of which are inevitably just as important in the hiring decision as the technical skills you learned in school.

Be aggressive; get out from behind the computer.  The internet has made the job search easier than ever.  However, too many young job seekers make the mistake of focusing all of their time and energy on combing online job sites and sending electronic resumes.  The online job boards are just one tool available to job seekers and one that should not be neglected.  However, most successful job seekers use multiple tools, and focus most of their time and energy on networking; meeting face-to-face with people who can help advance your job search.

Use your existing network.  Many recent college graduates mistakenly conclude that they are unable to build an effective network.  The assumption is that they are too young to have enough established contacts in a position to help.  However, college graduates have a much bigger network foundation than they imagine.  It starts with one’s parents and the parents of college and high school friends.  Fellow graduates may also be a source of information or connections to employers.  It is also important to utilize your school’s professors and alumni, all of whom are typically more than willing to provide guidance, connections and job leads.

Show willingness to work anywhere, anytime.  One major advantage recent college graduates have over more experienced job seekers is that they are far less likely to be tied down by a house and family.  They have the ability to go wherever the jobs are.  Let prospective employers know that you are willing to go wherever they need your skills.  With many companies experiencing faster growth in foreign markets, there is a good chance that a job with a multinational corporation could result in the opportunity to work overseas.  Embrace these opportunities, because they don’t come often.  Additionally, because of the expansion of the global economy, more jobs here involve working hours that line up with operations on the other side of the globe.  Let employers know that you can work hours that other employees may be unwilling or unable to.

Keep options open.  It is important to remember that your first job is not your job for life.  Be open to exploring occupations and industries that may diverge significantly from what you may have prepared for in school.  Every job provides foundational experience, even those that are unrelated to your desired career path.



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