Six Ways to Pump Up Your Job and Internship Search

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As a junior turned early senior, it seems that I rushed for nothing – there’s still no indication of where I’ll be headed on May 23 as the job market is taking it’s sweet time heading back to the pre-recession rates.

In fact, according to a recent article in, about three times more workers compete for each open employment position, something that would never happen in a healthy economy. And while this year’s number of advertised jobs has increased greatly (around 39 percent) since 2009, the percentage is still low compared to those released in December of 2007, before the recession.

Where does that leave college grads?

Strive to be the “Best of the Best”

It may sound trite, but in an economy where applicants are willing to lower their expectations, pay requirements and relocate to get a job, employers everywhere seem to have the upper hand. They can be more selective about whom they hire, whether they choose to focus on experience, college GPA or recognition, social connections or all of the above. Someone will inevitably fit the over-qualified description AND be willing to be paid the lower salary.

“It (the competitive job market) forces students to make sure they are preparing,” said Katie Flint, the assistant director of the career center at the University of Illinois. “It does make students more prepared and a better candidate, benefiting them and the employer.”

Manage and Organize

Utilize every minute of every day, and stay focused. That’s not to say you can’t have any fun, but you may want to consider trading in your lazy Saturday mornings for a possible internship or volunteering for a cause you feel passionately about. Employers know college is an important time, but they also know it’s a time bursting with opportunity – so take advantage! Keep in mind that, wherever you are, you are surrounded by clubs, organizations and businesses who can help you jump start your career while taking up that pesky white space on your resume.

With the former, stronger economy, there wasn’t much self-assessment done by students, Flint said. Since jobs are harder to come by, students have become more aware of employer expectations- so don’t fall behind!

Keep Searching

No matter what, keep hunting for that perfect position. It might not be easy, but if you quit early, you may get stuck with a job you hate.

“You have to be an active participant in this search,” Flint said. “Jobs won’t necessarily fall in your lap, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. If you make the effort, you will find things.”

And, if you’re currently preparing for entering the war known as “the job search,” look over these resume tips to help you stand out from the crowd. After all, it may just land you that interview:

Create a Custom Resume

Highlight the experience that will mean most to the hiring manager at each position. Take the time to determine which of your experiences will stand out most, and re-arrange the resume – and cover letter – for every application.

Create a Quick, Easy-to-Read Resume

If this article gets too wordy, you and I both know you’re clicking ahead. Think of your hiring manager as an eager Internet reader – put all crucial information at the top and organize the resume in quick, easy-to-read templates available on word or on the Web.

Peer Editing

If a hiring manager sees a typo, they’re probably going to pass over your resume for someone who took the time to read it over, several times. Have a professor or your roommate read it over, too because you might miss common mistakes as well.

By Kristy Shaulis, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

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