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Are Employers Having More Trouble in the Recession, Too?

The following is the first post in a two-week-long series on Graduating From College During a Recession, presented by the members of the College Money Network. You can get all of the posts in this series and more by subscribing to the College Money Network RSS feed.

With unemployment up and record numbers of employment applications, you would think that employers are sitting awfully pretty these days. Why, they can just lean back and let the qualified applicants roll in, and then have their pick of the litter, right? Well, maybe not, according to this recent post: Why hiring is paradoxically harder in a downturn.

According the post, an increase in job applications doesn’t usually correlate to an increase in outstanding job applicants. In other words, they have to spend a lot more time sorting through the muck to find people worth hiring. And during a recession, finding reliable, productive workers is more important than ever.

Curious about this phenomenon, I sent the article over to Kevin at No Debt Plan. He works as a recruiter for his day job, so I asked him for his thoughts on hiring in the current climate. First he warned me that he doesn’t deal with many new grads in his particular line of work, but what he had to say was helpful nevertheless:

The economy is in bad shape and there is a large supply of qualified individuals to do work. That makes our job easier, except the only problem is, there are not that many jobs to place these candidates into.

Is it harder to sift through and find good candidates? Perhaps, but not much. A good candidate’s resume stands out from the crowd (well, so does a bad one, but you move on quickly).

So, Kevin, what can a fresh college grad do to put themselves on the top of the resume pile?

The absolute best thing a college grad can do is to network. Seriously. You’ve heard it time and time again, but it is so true. It’s something I didn’t do well in college and I paid the price after I graduated. Maybe that’s why I harp on it so much!

Network, get internships, do informational interviews. The more the merrier. You’ve got to make yourself stand out from the ever growing crowd in some shape, form, or fashion.

Networking’s tough – we’re not generally used to massaging people into doing big favors and talking us up to people we don’t know – but it could be key. I applied to an internship last week, only to find out that I was just one of over 240 applicants. Ouch! I’m suddenly wishing that I had a contact on the inside who could intervene on my behalf.

What else can you do? Don’t forget that a sparkling resume doesn’t just come out of thin air. You really have to put some serious work into writing your resume and cover letter. Great writing can’t replace an empty work history, but bad writing can get your application ignored. It’s about putting your best foot forward.

Most of all, be persistent. No matter what’s going on in the larger world, every job I’ve landed so far has been the product of a good amount of persistence, and I don’t think the economy can ever change that rule.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post in the Graduating From College During a Recession series. The next post will be up tomorrow at Broke Grad Student!

11 responses to “Are Employers Having More Trouble in the Recession, Too?”

  1. Broke Grad Student

    Great tips. I definitely agree that networking is the key to getting your application in front of the eyes of the right people (the ones who have the power to hire you).

    Then it’s up to you to nail the interview. If things don’t work out, keep trying. I applied four times to the company at the top of my list before finally getting my foot in the door.

  2. brooklynchick

    Great guy who advises on networking:

    Also, make sure your cover letters are customized to the job – I hate generic cover letters that make indication the person even read the ad!

  3. Roger

    Interesting stuff; I hadn’t thought about how the downturn would affect employers. I’ll have to work more on networking, although I’ve actually had some luck simply by calling up the listed recruiters to follow up on my job applications; one of them actually wrote to me earlier this week about a potential position. The power of a personal connection at work, I suppose.

  4. Ibrahim |

    Excellent tips. I graduate in 2 weeks and I’ll have to find a job. I’m a bit panicked. But I plan on teaching, and I hear that’s a field that is still ripe with jobs.

  5. MLR

    I usually tell people in college to skip internships. Most people who are hiring candidates know that most internships don’t give you any responsibility and your resume is just fluffing over that. What about the internships that do give you responsibility? The employers usually know who they are.

    What I did, and what I advocate, is getting “real” jobs. A lot of large companies offer part-time work. Obviously it depends a lot on your field.

    Co-ops are another VERY valuable alternative plan.


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  8. Joe

    Networking right now is the most effective strategy to find employment.

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