Finding work in a tough job market
Finding the perfect job after graduating from college can be tricky in a normal economy. Finding a good job in the midst of a recession is even more challenging. It’s still attainable, however, if you start the process now, regardless of how far away graduation may be.
What can you do while you're in school? Network with students who are at least one year ahead of you. When your senior year rolls around, students who graduated ahead of you will be in the world of work—and they may be some of your very best contacts for finding a job you want. Also, visit your Alumni Association and see if they can help you network with alumni in your chosen career path. Family friends can also be helpful when networking.
What should you say to potential students, alumni and family friends in your network? Let them know your eventual career plans, that you are developing a network for job leads, and that you want to stay in touch with them over the next few years. Your school's Career Services Officecan also be a great resource to you. They may be able to help you perfect your resume and inform you of upcoming job fairs. If you need some more ideas for finding job leads, check out Networking and Using online job resources.
Beyond your campus and your network, research the job market in your area. Read the local newspapers. Pay particular attention to the business section, noting industries that are staying strong-or even growing-in the midst of this recession. Think ahead to the industries that will benefit from the stimulus bill spending (heavy construction, green energy, health care, and others). Then, identify local companies in your area that may benefit from stimulus spending.
Assessing job offers
In tough economic times, job offers may not turn out to be what you hoped for or heard about in the past. For instance, many companies are cutting back on retirement plan contributions for their workers, simply because it's an expense companies believe they cannot afford in today's uncertain economy. Other benefits may be trimmed back as well. But don't ignore a job offer with limited benefits-in many cases, these reduced benefits are just a temporary measure.
Considering company history
Do your homework on the history of a company's benefits just as you would research the company's products, management style, and financial health. Research news stories on the company that indicate any changes to its benefit packages, company profits, business structure, or in the case of a nonprofit organization evidence that their donations and financial support is down. Or, talk directly with the company's human resources staff. Any benefit reductions, or furloughs (mandatory unpaid time off) may be temporary. If you hope to work for a good company that you really like for several years, it helps to think in the long term.
If you're interviewing with a particular firm or organization, ask how the company traditionally handles slow times, perhaps by reducing workers' hours, closing the business for a week during holidays, cutting benefits, or lowering entry-level salaries for new hires. Check out Reviewing retirement benefits and Looking at other perks for more ideas on evaluating potential employers. If you end up taking a position that has a lower salary, check out Recover from recession salaries to get tips on how to increase your salary.