By MARVIN WALBERG - Scripps Howard News Service
"Entry-level and middle-manager positions were most affected by last year's job cuts," said careers expert Carolyn Thompson, "and many companies that laid people off over the last 18 months are beginning to hire again."
Now is the time for new grads to use all means to approach companies with their interests and make their qualifications known. Keep these tips in mind:
1) Start with reasonable expectations: Your first job is meant to get your foot in the door. Do research and figure out what "entry level" means in your industry. Understand the requirements, responsibilities and compensation. Setting reasonable expectations up-front will pay off in the end.
2) Temporary is OK: Temporary jobs often lead to permanent positions. Before investing in you, companies want to see that you have what it takes, not just hear about it in an interview. If a great organization offers you a temporary position, consider it.
3) Network: Eighty percent of jobs found today are the direct result of networking. Ask your parents, your friends' parents and all of their friends for help. You'll be surprised at how willing these personal connections are to help and how quickly a small network can expand. Be sure to have a printed business card on hand at all times so you can professionally connect with people you meet.
4) Develop a job-search strategy -- and stick to it: Identify the industries and companies that interest you. Read through their websites, blogs and profiles on social-networking sites. By familiarizing yourself with the facts, you can better prioritize your time and energy, create stronger action plans and make more informed decisions.
5) Going back to school is not the only option: The job market can be tough, but that doesn't mean you need to go back to school. Job availability is expected to climb over the next few years. Depending on your specific interests, it may already be on an upswing. Jobs and promotions don't automatically go to the one with the highest degree. In many cases, practical work experience in a specific industry is equally important to employers.
Thanks to Thompson, a 20-year veteran of the executive-recruitment industry and the author of three books on career development. Visit her site, http://www.CarolynThompson.net.
(Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach. Contact him at mwalberg(at)bellsouth.net, marvinwalberg.blogspot.com, or PO Box 43056, Birmingham, AL 35243.)