College grads need time, tools, connections in search

2014-05-31T22:30:00Z 2014-06-02T17:27:39Z College grads need time, tools, connections in searchLesly Bailey Times Correspondent
May 31, 2014 10:30 pm  • 

Helping connect graduates to jobs for 14 years, Sharese Dudley-Mora said positions are available – it just takes longer to locate them.

“While it’s a little bit harder than it was a few years ago, it is slowly getting better. At a recent job fair, we had close to 50 employers and all were hiring,” said Dudley-Mora, career and placement services director at Indiana University Northwest. “Opportunities are out there, it just takes more time to find them.

“The process of hiring takes longer. There are so many individuals being considered for an opportunity … It’s not how it used to be where you were called in a few days for an interview.”

A recent report from the Labor Department indicates college graduates are entering a strengthening job market. The unemployment rate was 10.9 percent for 2013 college graduates – the lowest rate since 2007. It is down from 13.3 percent in 2012. Data is based on numbers that were collected in October 2013.

Graduates launching the process earlier in their senior year will find the most success, said Natalie Connors, director of career services and development for Purdue University Calumet and North Central campuses.

“The graduates that start looking for their first post-graduation job early – like in the fall semester – seem to be the most successful,” she said. “The graduates that are putting off their job search until after graduation learn quickly that they should have started looking sooner.”

Margie Michna, of Valparaiso, secured her first job back in September after attending a job fair at Purdue University in Lafayette.

Michna will be putting her PNC mechanical engineering degree to work at her first job in Minnesota as a project manager at Flint Hills Resources oil refinery.

“I expected the process to be more difficult … attending the job fair helped me a lot as I had the opportunity to meet people face to face,” Michna said. “It seems graduates from the engineering department are not struggling with finding a job. I just think engineering is a great field and technology and science are always good fields.”

Connors agreed there are majors that will more likely result in an easier job hunt.

“There are some fields that are more in demand than others, for instance, engineering graduates often have accepted offers of employment by January, February or March,” she said. “Based on the numbers of employers that are contacting us seeking to hire recent graduates, I am very optimistic that the job market for recent graduates is holding steady.”

Dudley-Mora said the process really is a job and the right tools and networking are key components.

“The more they plan and build skill sets the more marketable they will be out there. It takes time. We tell our students and alum that finding a job is a job in itself. They have to be consistent and take the search seriously,” she said. “You have to get out there and network … if you have free time volunteer as a way to connect with people. It’s very important to have the right marketing tools in place. … Your resume is how you sell yourself to an employer. There isn’t as much direct contact and that can be challenging. You have to come up with a strategic plan for your overall career search and reach out to those who can help and give guidance and direction.”

“We have been telling soon-to-be graduates that you should devote at least three hours a week to searching for jobs. For every 30 to 40 jobs you apply to, you may yield two to three interviews,” Connors said. “If you are not getting any interviews, then your resume may need to be adjusted as this is usually one of the first articles that an employer will see.”

It was Kara Moon’s community involvement that helped her foster connections to an internship and first job. The soon-to-be graduate studied business with a concentration in marketing and a minor in organizational leadership at PNC.

Moon, of Valparaiso, landed opportunities through her years being involved with the Porter County Fair. She is wrapping up her internship at Smith Donovan Marketing & Communications, which assists with fair marketing. It was her time with 4-H food auctions that spurred the job offer from Jonathan Kraft of Kraft Auction Services. She will take on the marketing manager role in June.

“To be involved is so important … they say it’s who you know, but it’s really who knows you. My big advice is to get involved in something you really enjoy and not be afraid to put yourself out there,” she said. “I have a friend who has been searching for a job since graduating in December. I am very fortunate … networking can lead to opportunities.”

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