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For Class of 2010, Flexibility and Persistence Key to Entry-Level Job Search

For Class of 2010, Flexibility and Persistence Key to Entry-Level Job Search

Members of the class of 2010 are gearing up for longer job searches, lower starting salaries and possible work outside their chosen fields, according to the results of MonsterCollege's 2010 survey of job-seeking students, recent grads and employers.

Among college seekers surveyed:

  • 93 percent expect it will take them longer to find a job under current economic conditions.
  • 32 percent expect a starting salary of $36,000 or more, down from 45 percent in 2009.
  • 49 percent would consider taking a job outside their field.

Of employers surveyed, 46 percent plan to hire new grads this year, down from 54 percent last year. Of those with hiring plans, 60 percent expect to hire the same number of grads as last year, while 16 percent plan to hire more, up from 11 percent in 2009.

When hiring a new college graduate, employers cited the following as among the most important factors:

  • Personal characteristics (36 percent).
  • Relevant work experience (34 percent).
  • Educational background (20 percent).

While the national unemployment rate remains high, experts say members of the class of 2010 should be able to land entry-level jobs by being connected, flexible and persistent -- advice that job seekers surveyed seem to be embracing.

Best Ways to Find Jobs

Seventy-eight percent of college job-seeker respondents said networking was the most useful job-search tactic.

"People hire people, so get out from behind your computer and take advantage of opportunities to network on campus, including career fairs, employer information sessions, and events hosted by student groups and academic departments," says Suzanne Helbig, assistant director of counseling and marketing for the University of California, Berkeley's career center.

Recruiters and seekers alike say job boards are another effective job-search tool. "If you have a large pool of resumes, it allows you a lot more latitude in the quality of candidate you select," says Crispin Murira, general manager for marketing at Blinds To Go, an Iselin, New Jersey, manufacturer and retailer of window treatments.

Social Media Coming on Strong

Social media became extremely popular in the last year, with 38 percent of job-seeking respondents and 42 percent of employers using social networks. That's nearly double the rate recorded in last year's survey, when 15 percent of job seekers and 21 percent of employers cited social media tools as being effective for their respective purposes.

"Social media may present an opportunity to supplement traditional communication methods," says Mike Caldwell, interim director of career development at Grinnell College. You can follow companies, recruiters and opinion leaders, helping you gather information, identify opportunities and make connections.

Pamela Selle, a December 2009 graduate of DePauw University, used several social media channels in her job search. She set up a Twitter account to follow employers she was interested in as well as a LinkedIn profile. "And I assisted at a social media conference, an experience that also likely helped me get my job," she says. After a six-month search, she found a listing on a blog that posts Web and communications jobs in Washington, DC. She now works as an IT specialist for e21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic research and policy organization in Washington, DC.

Broaden Your Horizons

Brad Henson, an Emerson College senior majoring in media production, hopes to land a job at a movie or television production company or as a production assistant. But he's realistic. "Some of my coworkers at my current internship are in their mid- and late 20s, and they have been forced to work internships because they can't find anything else," he says. "I will take literally anything and everything."

That's the right approach, Helbig says. "Become more open to expanding the range of career fields you're interested in and geographic regions you are willing to live in," she says. "Keep in mind that if your first job isn't your dream job, that's OK."

So instead of worrying about how the bad economy is going to impact your job search, seek out reasonable opportunities and alternatives. Network like crazy, online and off. Do what you have to do to get related work experience. "Experience can be the deciding factor in getting an interview," says Stephanie Bryson, recruiting manager for Youth Villages, a nonprofit supporting emotionally and behaviorally troubled children in 11 states that is looking to hire 80 grads for entry-level counseling positions or placement in its YV360 counselor-development program. The organization will also hire 75 underclassmen for paid summer internships.

Also, develop examples of personal characteristics -- such as drive, leadership, passion and a desire to learn -- that can't be taught. "If you have strong personal characteristics, we can train you to acquire the skills," says Murira, whose company plans to hire about 300 to 400 new grads this year for its retail stores and about 30 to 40 for its management training program.

Says Helbig: "Patience and persistence are key."

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