With the unemployment rate stuck above 9%, the jobs picture appears dim. But there are rays of hope for new college graduates. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 19% more graduates will be hired in 2011 than were last year.
To find out how they’re landing their jobs, I talked to two recent college graduates who found full-time work with benefits in the last six months and a third who is working in a temporary post that is likely to lead to a full-time position
These are individual stories, but each comes with job search lessons.
I also talked to Brandon Labman and Tom Moore, co-founders of ROCS, a small regional staffing firm in Fairfax, Va., that specializes in placing recent graduates in entry-level positions. Labman and Moore, both 27, founded the business in 2003 when they were freshmen at George Mason University. I’m not wild about their acronym, Responsible Outgoing College Students, but they claim to have had real success, placing 1,000 grads in the last year and taking in $2.5 million in revenue (employers pay ROCS a fee for finding employees). ROCS put me in touch with the three young people I interviewed for this article.
The biggest surprise for me in their tales: I write frequently about how important it is for job seekers to limit their time online. But these three all connected to their current positions through a computer. However, they also all put in serious old-school effort. They worked while in college and during their searches, and they kept hunting until they found positions that felt like good fits.
First there’s Jenna Given, 24, who graduated from Virginia Tech in December 2009 with a liberal arts degree. She wanted to work in advertising and endured the longest search of the three candidates, 16 months. She started hunting down work before she graduated, and then devoted three months to looking full-time before she began to do some temporary work as a receptionist. She lived with her parents in Centreville, Va., and told herself she could last a year before accepting a position she didn’t want. Her parents helped her network. “My mom would be talking about me and my job search at my little sister’s basketball games,” she says. “My dad was reaching out to everyone he knew.”