The United States labor market is not as strong as it was prior to the recession, but according to Bloomberg’s Businessweek, those who graduated in 2011 saw better hiring results than those who graduated in 2010 and 2009.

As the unemployment rate continues to decline, 2012 graduates should have an even more positive career picture. However, competition remains strong for every position companies are looking to fill, and 2012 graduates are not only competing with the graduates of the preceding five years, but mid-career professionals who entered the job market as a result of job loss during the recession’s deep workforce cuts.

Though statistics indicate that employers are showing a preference for recent graduates overall, the competition for available positions must be taken into account when planning your entry into the workforce. Here are four things that you can do to improve your chances of landing the ideal position with your new degree.


Network with the Contacts You Already Have

According to a recent study by Right Management, a subsidiary of the Manpower Group, 41% of people relied on in-person networking as the target of their new job in 2010, compared to just 4% through online networking. For recent graduates, it might seem difficult to land a position through networking alone, but networking isn’t just done through career contacts. Consider reaching out to family friends, professors, contacts from internships, and other mentors for assistance in a job search.

Also, even though according to this survey networking in person remains more effective than networking online, it’s a good idea to create a LinkedIn profile (or update your profile, if you already have one). This can lead to new contacts, and help you keep in touch with and develop the contacts you make through in-person networking.
On CB: A Grads Guide to Sincere Networking for a Faster #Jobsearch


Tailor Your Resume to Each Employer

There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” resume. Every job seeker has different skills and expectations, and every employer has different needs and requirements. It is your responsibility as a job seeker to show an employer how your skills are a match to what the employer is looking for, and it’s your resume that opens the door to an interview where this can be discussed in more detail.


Tailoring a resume means changing the highlights and background information about your experience and skills using key words that address the attributes an employer is looking for, not stretching the truth or repeating an employer’s job posting verbatim. A tailored resume should address why or how you meet an employer’s needs honestly and clearly. Candidates who have less experience may want to highlight courses completed relevant to the position instead of only stating their degree, or use an unconventional format like a functional or targeted resume.


Use a Cover Letter

Not all employers require a cover letter to accompany a resume, but whether or not a cover letter is specifically requested, it is a good idea to write one. Like your resume, your cover letter should be personalized to the employer. Use the hiring manager’s name in the salutation, even if you must call the company for the information. If the hiring manager’s name is unavailable, use a salutation such as “Dear Hiring Manager”. Avoid using weak salutations like “Dear Sir or Madam”. In the body of your letter, address the most important qualifications the employer is looking for (these will usually be listed first in a job description), and a brief explanation of why you would like to work for this company, in this position.

See Careerbuilder for further tips on how to personalize and format a strong cover letter.


Look Closely At Your Online Presence

It’s no secret that employers are looking at Facebook and other social media sites to discover information about potential candidates. The Next Web suggests that between 37% and 53% of employers are performing social media screening as a regular practice – and up to 33% of these employers have decided not to hire a candidate based on the information found. If there is any information about you on your social media sites that is less than 100% professional consider taking it down or making all of your social media outlets accessible only to friends. This will help make sure that the work you put into networking and writing resumes and cover letters won’t be wasted.


About the guest post author:
Laura McPherson writes for Teacher Certification Degrees, a free retarget for learning about how to become a teacher, education options, and requirements by state.