With figures this year showing that the gap between the number of graduates unable to find work after leaving college and those leaving school at 16 has narrowed drastically, there’s no doubt that the weak economy is creating huge challenges for those finishing college. About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields. For graduates that have invested thousands of dollars in their education, how can they improve their chances of finding work upon graduation?
One of the biggest problems facing graduates searching for jobs is the lack of hands-on experience. Employers’ budgets are tight and they are keen to find employees with relevant work experience in their field. For graduates this is a catch 22 situation, without experience it’s hard to get a job and without the job it’s hard to gain experience. One way to demonstrate your commitment and interest in your field is to start a blog, writing about the industry. Avoid a personal blog, but combine a personal take on relevant issues in the industry that you are working in (or hope to). Although it’s not a substitute for real world experience, it can demonstrate that you are enthusiastic and engaged in the community. It’s a particularly good tool for marketing and journalism graduates. Furthermore, combining a blog with your twitter account (or a separate more professional twitter account) can be an excellent way to draw attention to yourself.
It’s all about who you know
Your blog should showcase your talents and interests, while your twitter links will help to gain exposure. Research companies that you’re interested in working with and follow them (or individuals who work for them). Keep any tweets professional and relevant, but don’t be afraid to demonstrate you have an opinion and a personality – again, especially important in the fields of marketing and media. Another excellent site for those looking for work and trying to stay on top of developments in their industry is Quora. This ‘Q&A’ type site is similar to Yahoo Answers, but the answers tend to come from professionals within a whole range of industries. Company chairmen, CEO’s and other experts frequently post answers on the site and this makes it an invaluable source of inside knowledge for those lacking direct industry experience. With a little experience of this sort you may also find that you are able to answer questions on Quora and build a profile of your own. If nothing else, this keeps you involved in the field that you’re hoping to work in, and it can also draw some useful attention to you.
Get involved more
For many graduates, the application black hole will grow disturbingly quickly as time passes. Internships and voluntary work are two ways of filling this gap. Internships, while usually unpaid, are beneficial to your career while you are still in college or a recent grad searching for a job. Taking an unpaid internship is a great way to help increase your work experience. Also, consider working for a non-profit organization to help not only your work experience, but to help expand your network.
Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer an blogs on human resources, careers and business covering everything from tutorials on QuickBooks payroll software to social recruiting tips. Breaking into any industry at the moment can be difficult; for marketing and journalism graduates the jobs front is particularly bleak. However, by involving yourself actively (if only as a volunteer) in your industry of choice you can begin to develop experience which will increase your prospects for the future.