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Graduating? How to thrive in a tough job market

Graduating into a tough job market

As college students prepare for graduation, the excitement, for many, is clouded by anxiety about finding a job. This is compounded by the weak economy and a job market that, although improving, is still quite tough. Those seeking jobs in new fields may be especially nervous about the prospects of a lengthy search, but Juergen Korbanka, PhD, executive director of Wasatch Mental Health and a College of Social Sciences instructor at the University of Phoenix Utah Campus, says the best way to handle the anxiety is to be prepared.

"Be mentally prepared to experience some anxiety, and know that although it's unsettling, it is survivable,” Korbanka says. “People find jobs every day, particularly people who are educated and qualified." Here, his tips for a fruitful job search:  


Map out a plan of action for your job search.

Determine the types of positions you want and the companies you want to work for, as well as the ways you stand out as a professional. You’ll want to play up those strengths in interviews, Korbanka says.


Evaluate your field carefully.

Korbanka says job seekers should research their industries to determine which positions are most in demand in their field. In addition, it’s important to get to know the etiquette in your field: Should you contact people directly who work in the companies that interest you? Or does protocol in that industry suggest that it’s better to apply for positions online or through human resource departments?


Make time for networking.

One proven way to get closer to your dream job is to do some old-fashioned elbow rubbing. "Coming from the dictum that the best way to have a future is to invent one, you should find network opportunities,” Korbanka suggests. “And [tell] family and friends that you are looking for a job, in case they may have leads." Job seekers often find positions via someone they know, particularly when they can use that person as a reference.


Be realistic.

"One of the mistakes people make is either they don't give the job search enough time, or they give it too much time," Korbanka says. "It's also important to determine how long you should wait for your dream job at Company X, which isn't hiring. Your first job may not necessarily be your dream job, but rather a stepping stone where you can get skills to transfer to the next employer." He also advises researching the average time it takes to get hired for a job matching your qualifications.


Keep your eyes on the long-term goal.

Korbanka says it's also helpful to write down why you embarked on this academic and career journey in the first place — you can refer back to this for motivation when the job search gets discouraging.  


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