Five tips to find a job in the poor economy



Column by Adam French

I know we are all tired of hearing about the suffering economy and its effects on our lives. More stories have been written on this subject than even the Octomom, Tiger Woods’ “addiction,” Brett Favre’s future, or Jon and Kate – whoever they are.

However, some of these stories truly do have far-reaching effects into our personal lives, especially as college students with budding careers and goals.

Because the economy has tightened up, the job market has followed it as companies find ways to cut costs through downsizing, moving their operations abroad, or downright ceasing to exist.

The amount of jobs available and even the quality of jobs available is drastically different now than it was five years ago when the economy was stable and growing.

For virtually all career areas companies are simply not opening up their pocketbooks as much for new hires. While this may make finding a career seem hopeless for soon-to-be graduates, there are some economic performance indicators that show a change on the horizon.

So there is some hope for us college students, but the job market is still very competitive, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Since more qualified candidates are on the market and since there are more students emerging from college than ever with freshly printed diplomas, we have to make ourselves marketable and do everything we can to make our personal “brand” stand out.

In short, we have to make our resume and credentials the shiniest in the stack of the other two hundred applicants we are up against.

So how is this accomplished? If you think the answer is with grades, you are only half-right.

Your GPA is something that might get your resume moved over to the “keep” pile on an employer’s desk, but it alone will not land you a job. Most employers look more deeply into candidates than GPA, as GPA has such a variance from school to school or even major to major.

Also, employers desire more well-rounded employees and are much more likely to hire a candidate with a 3.5 GPA and campus involvement and work experience than a 4.0 GPA with little else to show for his or her time in school.

So how do you make yourself a viable, strong candidate for employment?

Build your network. This may be the single best piece of advice I ever got in college: it’s the hands you shake, and not the grades you make, that will get you a job.

Building a strong network of supporters – fellow students, professors, administrators, alumni, employers, etc. – is the best way to get an “in” with a prospective employer, which is huge when the jobs out there are so scarce.

Get involved. As mentioned in the GPA example above, employers look for students with proven leadership ability and applicable real-world experience, whether it is through internships, a part-time job, study abroad, a research project and so on.

So rather than become a master at Halo or a beer pong champion while in school, use your time in college to build a resume showing you were willing to complement your education with legitimate experiences making you more qualified for employment than the guy whose only leadership experience involves Call of Duty 4.

Diversify yourself. Along with getting involved, make yourself and your resume well-rounded. Step outside of your comfort zone and take part in something challenging you to better yourself.

For example, if you have an otherwise strong resume missing any significant public-speaking experience, make yourself more diversified and hirable by taking a communications class or involving yourself with an activity like a debate team. This will help fill the gaps in your resume and will show employers your versatility as an asset to their organization.

Manage your image. This takes many forms, from editing your online presence (no Panama City beer-bonging pictures on Facebook) to making yourself more presentable (proper attire, kempt appearance, proper grammar and so on). Impressing employers with your professionalism (good manners, edited and proper resume, being early for an interview, etc.) is also key.

The object is to control the controllable, making sure the entirety of you reflects any qualifications you may have as a good prospective employee.

Be honest. Being honest seems simple, but it means your resume and application should be able to be verified by an outside source. Everything you place on your resume, reference list, application, or interview is subject to being checked out further, so make sure you are truly representative of your credentials.

Employers will not hire someone who lied in the application process, even by mistake, as the risk outweighs any potential reward. You’ve been warned – Google George O’Leary for further verification.

The reward for all of these steps is an enjoyable career, so take this seriously and make yourself recession-proof hirable. You’ll be glad you did.