By Diane Stafford - McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers
Graduating students: If you haven't yet darkened the door of your college career office, please drop in before you leave the campus. - College career counselors tell me too many students fail to take advantage of the many job-finding resources available to them before they graduate. - Most of the services remain available to alumni, and a few even are accessible to the community at large. But there's no better time than when you're still in school to get free advice on how to look for and sell yourself for a job.
I recently interviewed several graduating seniors, and there was a noticeable difference between those who had used placement office services and those who thought their job searches could start and end with online job applications.
The latter are likely to still be looking.
Granted, some graduates with great networking and presentation skills have the temporary misfortune of graduating with majors that prepare them for slow-hiring or nonhiring fields. They are victims of the economy and budget cuts.
Also granted, there are some so-so job hunters who are graduating in the hiring sweet spot - engineering, to name one - and they're landing positions even without top-notch communication skills.
But most graduates these days need to work to get a job. That means the graduates need to work at it. Not "helicopter" parents.
The job market is competitive. There are 2011 grads, those from 2010 and 2009, and midcareer job seekers who trump them on real-world experience.
Here's the advantage for this year's graduates: Employers have returned to campus career fairs in greater numbers and have posted more jobs in placement offices. They especially want those with the social media and tech skills that are important business drivers.
So visit your career office. They have job leads. They have resume and interview advice. They have networking tips.
And they may deliver the tough love you need to set realistic goals and make wise choices.