Job search strategies for new grads
The rules may sound familiar for new graduates searching for jobs in a down economy: Get job-related experience. Work your network connections. Don’t give up hope.
Career Services Center Director
“It’s a tough market,” Loudon says. “There are no two ways about it.” So job seekers must make sure their resumes include work-related experience such as internships or volunteer work, Loudon says. Even if they don’t find a job right away in their chosen fields, graduates should look for volunteer opportunities to gain career-related experience.
“Whatever you end up doing, make sure it’s something that strengthens your resume,” she says. “To just coast after graduation is not a great plan.”
There are jobs out there, Loudon says. Western’s most recent career fair drew about 80 employers. But nationwide studies show companies are scaling back their hiring plans for new graduates and salaries are flat.
So now is not the time to be picky about jobs, Loudon says. Focus on the kinds of skills and experiences the job offers, she suggests, not the field it’s in or the company.
Students and new graduates may also work with the Career Center to make sure they’re presenting themselves as best they can during their search.
“In a competitive market, job search skills have to be as strong as they can be,” Loudon says.
Here are some other tips for new grads looking for jobs:
- Look for ways to cut back on expenses, whether it’s living with a parents or extra roommates. Now is not the time to accumulate unnecessary debt.
- Sign up with a temporary agency. As the economy recovers, companies may be leery of hiring full-time employees and might turn to temp agencies. And temp work is a fine way to develop more skills to put on your resume.
- Consider graduate school only if it helps build skills in the career field you’re really interested in.
- Families and friends can be invaluable networks in a job search. A referral from a current employee can help a candidate stand out.
- Think creatively. Right after graduation might be a great time to take a job overseas teaching English, for example.
Loudon’s tips for younger students:
Junior year: Once students have declared a major, they should be thinking about finding an internship, either during the school year or over the summer. Even taking a quarter off for a full-time internship can be a good investment.
Sophomore year: Once they’ve completed 70 to 90 credits, students should know what their major is, or what it will be. Students can get help sorting out their options from the Academic Advising Center, www.wwu.edu/advising.
WWU’s Student Employment Center offers help to students looking for work. Find new job postings updated daily, help with writing resumes and preparing for interviews and more at www.finaid.wwu.edu/studentjobs.