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Career outlook brighter for this year’s graduating seniors

For graduating seniors searching for jobs, there’s good news. The job market is looking brighter this year than it has in recent years.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), hiring for new graduates is up 21 percent over last year.

Also, 41 percent of seniors who applied for jobs this year received offers compared to 38 percent of seniors from the class of 2010.

There also is an increase in the number of seniors who are turning down job offers this year — an indication that they aren’t feeling as desperate and are willing to hold out for a better offer, says Mary Michael Hawkins, director of DU’s Career Center.

Despite the positive increase, the job market is still very tight compared to a few years ago and graduating seniors will need to work hard to secure a job after college. Hawkins says graduates must be prepared to network, get creative, follow up and be persistent if they want to achieve success in their job search.

“We know the value and importance of networking,” Hawkins says. “There’s an old adage, ‘If you are not networking, you are not working.’ Network with alumni and employers using the connections that the career center and DU have developed. Don’t just rely on Craigslist, Career Builder and other online resources.”

The No. 1 qualification employers seek in job candidates is experience — even if it’s in the form of an internship. Many graduating seniors are completing internships to increase their experience while they search for full-time positions in their field.

“Since the economy has tanked the last three years, the phrase has been coined ‘the internship is the new entry-level job,’” Hawkins says.

DU Careers Online includes a job board with more than 500 jobs and internships available exclusively to DU students and the NACElink Extended Job Search board, which includes upward of 6 million job opportunities.

The job openings most frequently posted include positions in information technology, software engineering, financial services, sales, accounting, web marketing, marketing communications, social networking optimization and teaching English abroad.

In addition to free job boards, the DU Career Center offers other resources for DU students and alumni including: employer contacts and access to a professional network with more than 900 DU alumni, parents and friends who have volunteered to network with DU students and alumni; individualized resume and cover letter assistance; interview preparation and more.

The Career Center also offers several programs for seniors and alumni throughout the school year, including career fairs, workshops and panels and networking events with alumni and employers.

The Career Center currently is seeing seniors in all stages of the job search.

“Some are going with the flow — they’re not concerned — and others just want to give up but they know they should not,” Hawkins says.

She says it’s never too late for students or graduates to start a job search, and when job seekers feel overwhelmed by the process, the center’s career counselors work with them to put together a game plan to get started.

“Maybe that’s identifying a couple of job openings, making sure their résumé is polished or helping them write cover letters for those few positions,” Hawkins says. “Maybe it’s looking on our Professional Network and DU Careers Online to identify two or three people that they want to connect with to conduct informational interviews.

“I also recommend that students schedule this into their day just like they schedule anything else,” Hawkins says. “With everything going on — social activities, projects, finals and family and friends coming into town for graduation — it’s easy to let this slide. That really creates more anxiety, frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed, so the job search has to be part of their priorities day-to-day and week-to-week. Anything they do is one step closer; even if it’s a small step.”

The Daniels College of Business, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Sturm College of Law have their own career centers that offer extensive in-person and online career services for their graduate students and alumni.

The Career Center’s services are open to students and graduates from all programs and are free through the first year of graduation. After one year, the online resources, programs and events are still free, but the one-on-one services are available for a fee that is reduced from market value.

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