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Focused Goals, Adjusted Expectations Help Seniors' Job Search

Focused Goals, Adjusted Expectations Help Seniors’ Job Search


by Jennifer Spencer

As the pressure mounts for graduating seniors to find that first post-college job, Career Services suggests putting things in perspective and prioritizing the job search tasks with the greatest impact.

One of the best ways to sort through the variety of recommendations and stack of job descriptions out there is to simply make an appointment with the Career Services office.

“Every single senior needs to be in our office if they don’t have a job yet—and, at this stage in the year, that’s most of them,” said Stefany Fattor, director of Career Services.

Based on data collected about the graduating class each year, Fattor said that approximately 50-55 percent of seniors are typically still seeking full-time employment at this point in the semester.

“Most students don’t have jobs right now, and they’re anxious about it. They’re all associated with a few friends who do, and students translate that to, ‘Everyone has a job but me,” she said.

“It’s the next six months that really matter in the job search. For the Class of 2013, only seven percent of students indicated they were still looking for full-time employment six months after graduation.”

The Career Services office has just launched a new online system called Career Insights to more quickly collect data on where students are in the job search process. When seniors complete their profile, either reporting their job search success or simply indicating they are still searching, Fattor said it gives her team tools to help students search.

While the aggregate data may help Fordham see trends in the long term, Fattor and her team are also focused on the direct impact to each and every student’s search. Career counselors in the office will personally contact every single person in the Class of 2014 to offer support in the job search.

“We’re not focusing on the percentage. I’m interested in the 1,951 individuals in the Class of 2014. Our staff will reach out to those 1,951 students and find out where they stand, what they need, and how we can assist them,” Fattor said.

Bernie Stratford, director of Experiential Education, recommends students treat the job search like a job, setting defined hours to work on seeking work. That time can be used for more than just sending resumes, he said.

“Students need to work on their awareness, both about themselves and the world of work. For example, over the last four years, New York City has recruited more than 1,000 tech companies to be a part of the city's economy. That kind of awareness impacts a job search,” he said.

Fattor recommends a few practical tips to focus the job search at this crucial time. First, she says, students are often surprised at the volume of jobs to which they need to apply in order to secure a full-time role.

While five applications for unpaid internships may have yielded five interviews, students should be applying to far, far more jobs for paid work—in the dozens if not more than 100 in this economy, she said.

With such a large volume of job applications required, Fattor said it’s vital to be strategic.

“For every job you apply to, give it a score of 1 to 5, with 5 being your dream job. Spend an hour on the applications to the 5’s—customize your cover letter, tailor your resume to the role. For the 1’s, take a good 5 cover letter and take 15 minutes to make it work for that role,” she said.

Fattor said a resume review in the Career Services office can make a significant difference in an effective job search. Counselors review resumes for nuances of formatting and to ensure the key words in the resume match those in the job descriptions to which the student is applying.

Finally, Fattor encourages students to invest in the networking relationships they have built over the years.

“Students are always surprised when I tell them to notify their connections that they’re applying to their organization, because they don’t want to be too forward,” Fattor said.

“But you can simply inform them that you’re applying and ask if they have are any tips to make you more competitive. If your contact knows you well enough to recommend you, they’ll do it in a minute. And if not, you may still gain some valuable tips to customize your resume for the role,” she said.

Fordham College at Rose Hill Senior Brittany Batten said her experience with Career Services staff helped her find the job she will begin after graduation at Towers Watson, a professional services consulting firm.

“I started my search a little too narrow. If I saw this job without the benefit of hearing about it through my career counselor, I probably would not have applied for it right away. But once I started learning more about the company, I realized it was something I really would enjoy doing,” she said.

“Check out different fields you might not think you’re interested in,” said Batten, a communications major. “You might be surprised.”

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