We’ve all heard the dismal news of college grads looking for work. A recent Associated Press report noted that over half of new college grads are jobless or under-employed.
Specifically, 53.6% of new bachelor's degree grads have been unable to find a job or are working in jobs that fail to use what they learned in college. Those categorized as underemployed seem to be stuck in retail jobs, tending bar or waiting on tables.
Those faring the worst are grads who hold human sciences and arts degrees. On the other hand, for grads who majored in the education, health, science or engineering, the job picture looks somewhat brighter. The good news is that, overall, nearly 7 percent more college grads will find work this year than last year.
So what can you do if you’re holding a sheepskin from a good university and still waiting tables at Denny’s?
Attend campus job fairs
Companies are showing up at these fairs and hiring grads on the spot. In some cases, grads are actually getting multiple job offers. Many firms slashed their recruiting staffs during the recession. So now, it’s much easier to just set up a table and look for talent at specific schools than wade through a pile of resumes at the office.
If you’re not networking, start
You should have been networking as a sophomore and already have a list of connections and mentors in your field. It not, it’s never too late to start.
Sophomores, juniors—get an internship now
Summer internships can add real substance to your resume. You’ll connect with key people at all levels, people who will remember your name in that pile of applicant resumes when you apply for work as a June grad.
Do mock interviews
To polish your interviewing skills, practice by doing mock interviews. These are typically offered by your campus career center. They provide valuable feedback on the things hiring managers and HR recruiters will be looking for in a potential job candidate.
Some areas of the country may need your skills and knowledge more than others. For example, tech job openings in Detroit are growing rapidly, according a recent Bloomberg article. Ford and GM are hiring graduates at a frenetic pace. And most of the openings are in software. Granted, Grosse Pointe may not have the mild weather or VC entrepreneurial climate of Palo Alto, but the openings are there, and you can expect Detroit will do what it takes to attract talent.
The action is in Fortune 500s
Most job offers are coming from Fortune 500 companies, investment banks and consulting firms. They extend job offers in the fall for their summer openings. Smaller companies, on the other hand, hire when the need arises, so grads will get offers in late spring or summer.
It’s been a tough couple of years for college grads, but things are looking up. So be prepared, be persistent and be flexible in your job search.