For a college graduate, career planning–as involved as it can be–is the easy part of finding the ideal job. Finding a job after graduation is becoming more challenging as the economy struggles to rebound. Current college graduates have to complete with the previous graduates, as well as displaced or furloughed employees with years of experience under their belts. For many college graduates the anxiety of finding a job out of college is coupled with the burden of student loans and watching many of their relatives lose their job or homes as a result of the recession. Companies that are implementing salary and hiring freezes further compound the problem.
According to a report issued by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), an independent Washington, DC think tank that studies economic trends, the Class of 2011 is facing the worse job market on record. Unemployment among recent graduates rose to 9.6 percent in April 2011 from 5.4 percent in December 2007. Despite these dismal figures, there are indication that things are slowly improving for the better on the employment front. Employers report a significant increase in their spring hiring projections since 2007, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Corporate recruiters are slowly returning to college campus in search of candidates.
For many graduates, career goals may have to be modified or temporarily put on the back burner in order to find gainful employment. Another sobering reality in today’s tough job market is more companies offering unpaid internships as a tryout for permanent positions, which is good for building work experience, but bad when you have thousands in student loans to pay back. According to the EPI report, more than half state college students had an average of $20,467 in student loan debt as of 2009. Sixty-five percent of private school graduates had an average of $26,728 in student loan debt.
It may seem that having a college degree isn’t worth it, but it still gives you a major advantage over someone who doesn’t have one. Unemployment for persons without a degree is more than twice as high than for college graduates. After you graduate, career goals may change, but a few measures may increase your chances of finding the job you want. Volunteer or intern at a company you would like to work at. Social networking sites can be a very effective tool. Establish and cultivate an online presence that showcases you and your skills and talents. Take classes to learn new skills. Consider other jobs in your field of interest or other fields altogether. Lastly, don’t get discouraged in your job search.