News You Can Use: Forever Indebted — Rising Debt Makes Finding the Right Gig Vital For Grads

This past weekend, Meryl spoke to 175 seniors graduating from Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications, where she also earned her degree. She, like so many graduates, feels  connected — even indebted — to her alma mater for the experience and access that it provided.

Interestingly, this year’s graduating class is indebted in a completely different (and quite disconcerting) way. The Wall Street Journal reports that, thanks to rising costs of education, those graduating from America’s colleges and universities this spring share a dubious distinction: the most in debt ever. And, according to a recent poll, a staggering 85 percent of graduates will move back in with Mom and Dad to try to stave off financial ruin while seeking a job to pay off the monies owed.

So, even though employment prospects are up, getting that well-paid position has taken on an even greater urgency. Grads must consider how to stand out from the competition in a good way, and they shouldn’t wait until after donning the cap and gown to go for the right gig.

Are you or someone you know graduating?  Here are the top three things to do right now to get a jump on the competition:


1) Polish the profile.
From CV to clothing to digital presence, take a look at what your total “picture” is saying.

Your resume should reflect all the skills you’ve built — not just those gleaned from the corporate world. For example, if you were head of your sorority rush, talk about your strong leadership and organizational skills. Did you wait tables? You likely cultivated the ability to multitask and manage difficult personalities.

As for your social media profile, companies will be looking to new graduates for feedback and information about this increasingly important skill set. You are a digital native. Make sure all your ducks are in a row to present a strong, yet professional image.

2) Start (and keep) talking.
Informational interviews are a great way to glean information and get in the door. Connect with your Career Services or Alumni office to get the ball rolling. Then start sharing your aspirations and goals with those around you — classmates, colleagues, friends, families, etc. If you see a job posting, ask around in your community to get the contact for a real person on the inside of that company. The more conversations you have, the more connections you make. The more connections you make, the more likely you will be to land that coveted position.

3) Have a P.O.V.
Before walking into any meeting or interview, do your research and know where you stand on the top issues and ideas of the industry. You do this by digging around the top blogs and trade pubs as well as following the key pundits on Twitter. By staying up on news and standing for something, you can stand out from other candidates.

What other ways can graduates stand out from the crowd? Share it with us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

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