Focused Priorities Help Seniors in Their Job Search
by Jennifer Spencer
As the pressure builds for graduating seniors to find that first post-college job, Career Services staff suggests keeping expectations realistic and prioritizing job search tasks that have the greatest impact. And, they say, students should turn to them for help.
"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.
Fattor said that approximately 50 to 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 7 percent of students indicated they were still looking for full-time employment six months after graduation," she said.
The Career Services office has launched a new online system called Career Insights to quickly collect data on where students are in the job search process. While the aggregate data may help Fordham see trends in the long term, Fattor and her team are also focused on the direct impact on each student in this year's graduating class. Career counselors contact every graduating senior directly to offer support.
"We're not focusing on the percentage. I'm interested in 1,951 individuals in the Class of 2014 … and how we can assist them," Fattor said.
Bernie Stratford, director of experiential education, recommends students to treat the job search like a job, setting defined hours to spend 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 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 5s—customize your cover letter, tailor your resume to the role. For the 1s, 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 the job search. Counselors review resumes for formatting, nuances, and to ensure the key words in the resume match those in the relevant job descriptions.
Finally, Fattor encourages students to work their connections.
"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.
Senior Brittany Batten, FCRH '14, said her experience with Career Services staff helped her find her job 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."