Job Searches for New Graduates Starting Earlier and Going Longer, Says CU Career Services Director

With a struggling economy still gripping the nation, college students graduating this spring are faced with long, competitive job searches, according to Lisa Severy, director of the University of Colorado at Boulder's Career Services office.

However, new graduates often have a leg up when the job market recovers so patience is a must, she said.

"It is generally taking longer for students to find a job in this economy, so our advice is to start looking earlier, get as much help as possible and expand your search," Severy said.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently reported that employers they surveyed expected to hire about 7 percent fewer graduates in 2009-10 than they did in 2008-09. CU-Boulder has not been immune from this trend, with slightly fewer recruiters visiting campus this spring compared to last year, according to Severy.

This year's strongest sectors include the technical and education fields, although state and city school district budget cuts have weakened the education sector somewhat, she said.

One way for students to help offset the tough job market is to not limit their job search to only those positions that coincide with their major, according to Severy.

"A lot of graduates have the impression that there is a one-to-one relationship between major and career," she said. "And there are some like that, but many college graduates have degrees with many marketable skills."

"We encourage students to explore all types of opportunities, including a variety of industries and levels of positions to get a good start that may lead to bigger and better things," she said.

The best advice she can give students who are interviewing for their first major job is to practice.

"By the time we interview for our first professional job, most of us have had part-time jobs, but a professional job interview feels a little different," Severy said. "Coming to the Career Services office and doing a practice interview that is videotaped is really helpful, especially if you're nervous. You can practice on us and then go out into the real world."

Cleaning up online profiles on sites such as Facebook also is highly recommended. But don't stop there. Severy also suggests building up online profiles by adding professional goals and other accomplishments.

"We tell students to replace the negative information someone could find through a Google search with more professional posts on sites like LinkedIn," she said. "All it takes is one bad spring break photo to bounce you from an interview opportunity."

Being patient is another bit of advice Severy is giving job searchers this spring.

"Because the job market is tricky right now it can take longer to find a job, so students need to get a thick skin in terms of rejection," she said.

For those students who will graduate in the winter or next spring, it's never too early to start thinking about the job search process, Severy said. Sitting down with a counselor to help hone interviewing skills, prepare a resume and become knowledgeable about the job-seeking process can really pay off when it is time to find a job, she said.

Upcoming events offered by the CU-Boulder Career Services office include:

-- Monday, April 5, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., "The Job and Internship Search Workshop" event will be held in the Ketchum Arts and Sciences Building, room 3. The information session is open to all CU-Boulder students and alumni and is designed to help job seekers develop and brand themselves for success in their job searches.

-- Tuesday, April 6, at 6 p.m., the "Resume Writing Workshop" will be held in Duane Physics and Astrophysics, room G116. The workshop is in a computer lab where attendees can work on their resumes while receiving resume tips. The workshop is open to all CU-Boulder students and alumni.

-- Wednesday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., "The Just in Time Hiring and Internship Fair" will be held in the University Memorial Center's Glenn Miller Ballroom. The event is open to all CU-Boulder students and alumni. Companies attending are listed at careerservices.colorado.edu/students/JIT.aspx.

Additional facts about the CU-Boulder Career Services office:

-- Conducts more than 6,000 appointments, walk-in sessions, practice interviews and group sessions with students per year.

-- Posts more than 5,000 jobs and internships to the Career Services Web site that are exclusive to CU-Boulder students and alumni.

-- Hosts more than 300 on-campus visits from companies seeking to interview students for internships and professional positions each year.

-- Welcomes more than 500 organizations and 5,000 students to career fairs each year.

-- Provides vocational testing for individuals, classes and groups.

-- Regularly presents panels of alumni and recruiters discussing industry-specific information.

-- Manages a professional networking group on the Web site LinkedIn with more than 1,000 students, alumni, recruiters and community members interested in connecting with each other for professional development.

-- Provides a testing center that administers academic tests and some professional certification exams including the GRE, TOEFL, SAT, CLEP and foreign language proficiency tests.

For more information about the CU-Boulder Career Services office visit careerservices.colorado.edu/.

For audio clips of Severy discussing the job outlook for spring graduates visit www.colorado.edu/news/broadcast/. To view a video of Severy offering interviewing tips and discussing the job outlook visit www.colorado.edu/news/ and click on the job outlook story.

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