Unemployment causes difficulty for new graduates

by Robyn Repya

Finding a job after college is never easy, but it’s shaping up to be an especially daunting task for this year’s class of graduating seniors.

Struggling with a faltering economy, companies are implementing recruiting and hiring freezes and driving up competition among eager job seekers, said University career specialists.

“Students are having to work harder Ö this year,” said Mike Henle, assistant director of the Carlson School of Management Business Career Center.

Ed Foster, chairman of the economics department, said economic success is measured by the employment rate, which is currently at 6.3 percent. This time last year it was at 3.7 percent, according to the California Employment Development department.

“You’re not going to keep paying a worker if you can’t sell what they’re making,” he said.

Although layoffs are inevitable in a time of economic difficulty, Foster said, the newest members of the job market are usually the ones who lose out the most.

“A higher unemployment rate means it’s harder to find jobs because there’s more people looking for them – particularly if you’re just starting out,” Foster said.

There are many things students can do, however, to make themselves more appealing to potential employers, Henle said.

Students looking for jobs should explore as many options as possible for networking opportunities – developing contacts and relationships within their job fields.

“We’re telling students to make sure that they do some advertising through their network. Networking is really critical in this job market,” Henle said.

He said networking is also accomplished though one’s “inner circle,” including family and friends.

Approximately 340 students came to the Gateway alumni center Wednesday night to learn how to network – everything from initiating conversation to proper table manners.

An etiquette consultant helped students perfect the art of making business contacts, creating a professional wardrobe, exchanging business cards properly and engaging in stimulating conversation.

Allison Bucknam, an advertising senior, said she went to the event to strengthen her networking skills. Bucknam said she is both excited and scared about her approaching graduation in May.

“I’m worried about not getting hired, because that’s not what companies are doing right now,” she said.

Bucknam said although she is frustrated with the economy, she hasn’t lost hope for the future.

“During a recession, advertising is the first thing to get cut. But it’s also the first thing to bounce back,” she said.

Henle said frustration with the job market has spread throughout the University community – from graduating students to career services professionals and employers.

He said some students are prolonging graduation in response, while others who have graduated say they wish they hadn’t.

Paul Timmins, lead career service coordinator for the University Career and Community Learning Center, said he urges students not to wait until senior year to plan for the future.

Along with networking, Timmins said, it is beneficial for students to take advantage of internship opportunities even after graduation.

By volunteering or doing internships, he said, students give themselves an upper hand over those who are less proactive.

Looking in just one place is also an ineffective way to find employment, he said. The newspaper classifieds are a good starting point, but Timmins said career services organizations and professional associations could also offer assistance.

Timmins said the few available jobs this year are going to students who put this extra effort into their job search and self-promotion.

Henle said while networking is important and necessary to find a job in today’s job market, it’s not everything.

“Who you know helps open the door, but what you know clinches the job,” he said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]