Employers plan to hire more, but competition for jobs is high for new gradsStory by Olena Rypich
Photos by Michelle Naranjo
WWU University Communications Interns
Great news for college seniors and their families: For the second time since October 2008, employers have adjusted their hiring expectations upward, according to National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Job Outlook 2012 Spring Update. This year, they expect to hire 10.2 percent more new graduates than they did from the class of 2011.
Freshman Ericka Smith chats with Marine Neil
MacLaren at Western's Spring Career Fair.
But while the job market looks more promising, competition for jobs after graduation remains high, says Aaron Ignac, assistant director of Operations at Western’s Career Services Center.
Students sense that, too. At the 2012 Spring Career Fair April 19, Western senior Kaylee Buchmann was one of 730 current students and alumni who attended the career fair. Buchmann, who is majoring in math and is set to graduate in December, was in search of a summer job or an internship. “The job market is really stressful,” she said. “You have to be more qualified than just having your degree to get a job.”
The good news is students don’t have to go through the job search alone. Here are a few ways families can help their students stand out of a crowd of similarly qualified applicants:
Read how one senior
found her dream job
Encourage them to start early.
Ignac recommends that students start learning about the careers they’re interested in during sophomore and junior years. Doing an internship in their field before graduating might help them decide if they really want to go down that career path, which can save both you and your student you a lot of headaches in the future. “The earlier they start, the more they can explore your career options and not panic right before graduation,” Ignac says.
Urge them to use resources that are available to them.
From resume workshops to job postings, the Career Services Center offers numerous useful tools to help your student get a job. There, she or he can meet with a career counselor for advice on picking a major and find job postings on the Career Services website. Ignac says campus career fairs are also a great way to meet potential employers and find internships.
Junior Kara Kepple, student coordinator of the
Association's ASK! program, offers free pizza to
sophomore Shawn Ly at the Spring Career Fair.
Remind them of the value of networking.
Scoring a great job is often just as much (if not more) about whom you know than what you know. Connecting with professionals will make them stand out in their minds if a position becomes available. Students can sign up for the Alumni Association’s Ask! program, an online network dedicated to connecting students and alumni, which can be a great opportunity to communicate with people who have experience in the career or academic discipline that interests your son or daughter.
Encourage them to research their opportunities.
“A lot of organizations don’t get the attention they deserve because of assumptions people have about them.” Ignac says. A person might not be interested in applying to work at Fred Meyer or Target, for instance, because he or she associates it with retail. But these companies also have management-in-training programs and also need project managers and analysts – careers beyond what one might expect at a retailer.
Managers for Maurice's stores, Amanda Dehoog
and Natasha MacInnis, wait to meet students at
Western's Spring Career Fair.
Talk to them about their image.
Looking presentable now goes beyond wearing an ironed shirt to the job interview. Employers are taking advantages of social media sites to weed out applicants, Ignac says, so remind your student to be careful about what kind of information he or she shares online. Also, encourage them to have a 30-second “elevator” speech, a concise pitch that highlights their strengths and qualifications – what they have to bring to the table. Not only will it be a strong point in a job interview, but your student can make a connection with a potential employer outside a formal interview setting.