In less than two weeks Hannah Megan Chan will go from being a senior at
to being a college graduate. As emails come in reminding her about cap and gown pick-up, she deletes them.
"I'm still in denial," Chan says.
After graduation, the public relations major will spend some time in Peru and then she'll have to find a job.
"I'm a little bit afraid, as I'm sure a lot of other seniors are. Coming out of school without a job is kind of scary," she said.
College seniors are getting ready to graduate, and those who are heading into the workforce will face one of the toughest job markets in a decade. That's why it's so important that graduates stand out in their search.
"I think the greatest advice that I can give is to develop a focus," says Mike Cahill, director of
Career Services at Syracuse University
. "Try to get a narrow band or a narrower band of area that you are looking to work in, and do your research, too."
Areas that are hiring right now include technology, engineering, social media and health care. Cahill emphasizes that there are jobs available in every field.
"It's more important that you make a determination of what you really want to do, where that fits best in the world and then really work hard to find those opportunities."
Cahill says the problem many people have is that they don't understand what it takes to secure a job. He says too many people are reactive and only search for jobs that are posted. He says job seekers need to do research and speak to people whether it's on the professional social network LinkedIn, Twitter or in person.
"I think the primary area to do more in your job search is getting out and talking to people, getting out and learning more about what people do in the areas that you're interested in because people aren't going to hire you if they don't know you," Cahill said.
Employers need to be convinced that those looking for a job are capable of it, especially with all the competition. He says employers like to hire candidates they are convinced really want to do the job and are capable of it.
To stand out, Cahill says job seekers have to articulate what they want to do and why and how their skills fit in with the job. He says they have to provide specific evidence from school, activities and internships.
Graduates may want to have a Plan B in case they don't get a job, including interning. Cahill says interning allows graduates to gain more experience in their chosen field and possibly a future job with the company.
"I think anything that's going to help position you to be a better candidate for jobs in the future should be open to you," he said.
Since January, Hannah Megan Chan has been interning in public relations and marketing. She plans to highlight that experience as she reaches out to people on LinkedIn. She knows what she's leaving and what she's heading into. Despite the tough job market, Chan is still hopeful she'll find a job in Boston, her hometown.
"I'm ready for that big step," she says.
CNY Central will have experts standing by on Thursday to answer questions about how to stand out to get a job. The phone bank will go from 5 to 6:30pm on NBC 3 on Thursday evening.