Campus: CSU Northridge -- May 27, 2003

CSUN Career Center Director Offers Graduates Tips for Navigating the Job Market

For many recent college graduates, the job market looks pretty bleak.

Adele Scheele, director of Cal State Northridge's Career Center and author of several popular career strategy books, has some practical tips to help college grads survive these tough economic times.

"They are going to have to check their ego at the door," Scheele said. "When there's a tough job market, the important thing is to take a job—even though it's not what you had in mind. Regardless of the job, they can learn from it. And most importantly, the grads need to remember that this is just the first of many careers they will have in their lives."

To get started on their futures, Scheele, whose books include Skills for Success, Making College Pay Off and Jumpstart Your Career in College, reminded recent graduates to make sure they have resumes that reflect their activities, internships and any other work-related experiences they had while in college. Experience as an event coordinator or treasurer of a campus club can demonstrate leadership and communication skills as well as a willingness to assume responsibility that may make a graduate stand out to a potential employer.

"Even papers or projects they may have done for a class on an industry they are interested in that proves that they can think and write, and maintain a sustained interest in a topic," she said.

Scheele added that resumes must be "perfect." "Yet that alone will not get them a job," she said. Graduates also need to collect letters of recommendation from their professors, club sponsors or other university officials.

"Basically they need to write the letter for them, giving the person all the data they want in the recommendation, and to get it before they leave school," Scheele said. "They need to keep a copy of the letters in a sealed plastic envelope because they will never get them again."
She said recent grads also need to take advantage of all the services their university or college career centers have to offer, from assistance in resume writing and tips on handling job interviews to career fairs and other outreach efforts to potential employers.

Scheele said many graduates have never really had to sell themselves before. "For most of their time in school, they've been focused on their majors and not on their careers and they've never had to truly promote themselves," she said. "This is going to be the first time a lot of them have had to really petition for a job. They are going to have to say 'Will you hire me? I'd like to work for you. Do you have any concerns about me?'"

Scheele said this is one of the toughest job markets college graduates have faced in a number of years. "The first job they get may not be the job they want," she said. "But they will learn from it and meet people who will help them get to the next job and the next. That old adage 'it's who you know' is often true. And recent grads need to keep that in mind as they enter the job market."

If all else fails, Scheele said the grad can consider some kind of course that offers a certificate or going back for their master's. "Many kids are going to graduate school immediately because they can't find jobs," she said. "It's not a bad idea, but it's not the only way."

As the job search drags on, Scheele said some become depressed.

"If that happens, they need to come back to their school and visit a career counselor or at least get a buddy, someone they can talk to," she said. "They need to realize that they are not alone. And while it may take a while, they will find a job."

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