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Job Hunting for Graduates: Identifying and Competing for the Right Opportunities

Q&A with UAlbany Acting Associate Director of Career Services Noah Simon

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 18, 2012) -- With mixed reports circulating about job prospects for new graduates, understanding the job hunting process is a critical component of making the transition from college graduate to employee, according to University at Albany Acting Associate Director of Career Services Noah Simon.

Simon is an expert on career analysis, individualized career development plans, interview training and salary negotiation. He discusses the ins and outs of navigating the job market with a newly minted bachelor's degree in hand.

Q: What are the key issues facing graduating students in 2012?

A: For students graduating this year, the job market is slightly better than previous years. While it's still a very difficult market, a student who understands the process of identifying and competing for an opportunity will have a tremendous advantage over other job seekers. It’s also critical for recent grads to ascertain whether they want to seek further education or enter the job market immediately following graduation. Furthering one's education is great, but if it's only being done for the sake of avoiding the job market, it may not be the smartest decision.

UAlbany students practice interview skills
Students looking to secure a new job should stay proactive, network and identify organizations where their skill set can be utilized, according to UAlbany Acting Associate Director of Career Services Noah Simon. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Q: How can graduates improve their job hunting prospects?

A: Job hunting is a very targeted and comprehensive process. Students need to carefully pinpoint what types of organizations and positions they wish to target. Since the skills learned in college can be applied to a variety of industries, those willing to relocate will significantly increase job prospects. To identify the most appropriate individuals for your specific job search, networking is absolutely crucial. Take heart—networking is a learned process, and a skill you will refine throughout your life.

Q: What is networking? What role does it play in career advancement?

A: Networking is the art of creating and nurturing relationships, and is essential to career advancement. Most professional don't take the time to develop relationships, or if they do, they often lose touch with those individuals once they have reached their initial goal.

Many people only proactively network if they are seeking a job. True networking is creating relationships for everything from information, to opportunity, to growth within a career.

While the use of tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and others can enhance your networking capabilities, a poor online presence can have an adverse effect on your networking and job hunting efforts. It’s important to remember that networking is a two way street— we often ask for and seek information or opportunities, but we must also be prepared to reciprocate.

Q: What other skills must new graduates master?

A: Beyond networking, there are a host of peripheral skills that are required of new graduates. A great resume may get you to an interview, but if you lack strong interviewing skills, you may not land the job. I always advise graduates to remain proactive—students often get frustrated when they don't hear back quickly from employers.

Most of the time, I find that students are performing reactive searches by applying to positions they see posted on job web sites or in the classifieds. Job boards are merely a small part of any search with most opportunities not posted. Student should stay proactive, network and identify organizations where their skill set can be utilized. Jobs are all about filling needs and adding value.

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