April 30, 2009

Reader Mailbag: Job Search Tips for College Grads

Thursday is Reader Mailbag day, in which I answer questions about job searching from our readers. Do you have a question? Send me an email or leave a comment!

Dear JobMonkey,

I am a college senior at a private university in New York City. I will be graduating with a huge amount of student loans, which, given the current economic situation, is really freaking me out. I majored in communications and would love to get a job in my field, but at this point, a steady salary is my number one priority. I’d also like to move up to Boston, where my boyfriend is going to graduate school, but do you think it’s a wise move to go before I land a job?

Julie in New York

Dear Julie,

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. What a wonderful accomplishment!

It sounds like you have a stress right now, which is being compounded by your student loan burden. I am optimistic — and you should be, too — that you will find a job quickly. It sounds like you definitely have a can-do, will-do attitude, which is a huge plus. If for whatever reason you haven’t found a job by the end of your grace period on your loans, you do you can apply for a hardship deferral of payments, right? (You can find more information on repaying your student loans and student loan deferment at Financial Aid Finder.)

Now, as for your job search situation, you asked about moving before you land a job. In the current economy, local candidates have a decisive advantage, since few companies have the cash to splurge for relocation — especially for entry-level positions. If you are already in town, you increase your chances of getting called for an interview.

Do you have a professional network in Boston? If not, now is the time to start building one. Be in touch with all your contacts in New York, and ask them to help get you in touch with Bostonians. More than ever, networking is going to be key in landing a job.

You will also need a good personal network to help support you, emotionally and practically, during your job search. The need for support is always there, but especially when you are moving to a new city. Do you have friends or relatives (or your boyfriend?) with whom you can crash while you job search? If possible, bring a reserve of cash with you — ideally a few month’s worth of barebone expenses — to help you stay afloat while you’re job searching.

Additionally, sign up with a temp agency or two when you get to town; hopefully, you will be able to bring in some cash even while you look for your job.  If the job search lasts longer than your resources, consider taking a job in retail or at a restaurant. And don’t be worried that a job selling women’s blouses will deter from your career goals. Given the economic situation, potential employers will be more likely to hire someone who is enthusiastic about working… even if it’s not in their preferred field. Meanwhile, volunteering and interning are two great ways to make connections and keep your skill set fresh, even during a potentially protracted job search. (Here are some past blog posts on volunteering and college internships).

P.S. If you’re serious about getting a job in communications, you might want to have a look through JobMonkey’s section on Broadcasting Jobs.  You can also search through our Broadcasting Job Board, with openings in radio and TV.

Good luck to you in your move and your job search! Keep us updated when you find your new position.

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