Even in the best of times, finding a job after college is a challenge. And this is the worst of times. Unemployment continues to grow, even in professions that were once considered recession proof. As graduation looms on the horizon, many students who once looked forward to living away from home and becoming financially independent now wonder whether that future will ever happen.
Looking for a job in a tight job market requires new strategies, says Ralph Canape, President of Resource People, Inc- dba Resource Select Group, an executive search firm that places people in sales, sales management, and other professional positions. “In all of my years as a senior manager with Fortune 500 firms, I realized I was successful because I hired good people,” says Canape. “I wanted to use that skill to help other companies. So I founded my firm in 1996 and have been finding jobs for people ever since.”
In a tough job market, it pays to do your homework and be prepared. Here are some of Canape’s tips:
Know what you want to do. Do a self-inventory and decide what aspects of a job are most important to you. “Do you want to make a lot of money, even if the job is stressful?” asks Canape. “Would you be happy to make less if you like the work?” Besides identifying what you would like to do, be honest. Is the job you are seeking something you would be good at? If not, revise your plan.
Develop a “walking resume.” Before you start sending out dozens of resumes, reach out to make personal contacts. “If you know what field you are focusing on, develop a mentor, someone who is successful,” says Canape. “Most people will try to help recent college graduates, giving them tips and referrals. Building these contacts can lead to the next step in the job search.”
Offer to work without being paid. “One applicant I worked with wanted to work in procurement (purchasing), ” says Canape. “She volunteered her time at no charge. It did two things for her. She learned the job, made many contacts and gained experience. Now she is close to getting an offer.”
Join the Chamber of Commerce. “Usually the fee is not expensive for a personal membership and one can attend Chamber’s mixers making contacts with various businesses,” says Canape. “I know of one candidate who did this and received an offer for a marketing position after only attending three mixers.”
Learn a new language. We are a global society and it helps to know another language. Canape says one of his candidates, using Rosetta Stone and other educational tools, became conversant in that language in six weeks. “You will be surprised how many opportunities will result,” says Canape.
Increase your computer skills. Go beyond Facebook and Twitter and learn what computer skills businesses consider valuable.
Subscribe to websites. Focus on ones like Zoom Info (www.zoominfo.com), that lists millions of people in positions with firms. Although the annual subscription is pricey—$3,000—you can share that cost with others who are also job hunting. These sites list people in various positions with their e-mail and direct phone numbers. “I have had many applicants use Zoom Info and the payoffs were big time,” says Canape. “Almost 90 percent received offers. No kidding!”
Contact Ralph Canape through his website, www.resourceselectgroup.com