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Maine Conference: Jobs Available if College Grads Know How to Look
06/04/2012   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

After earning their diplomas, the next step for college grads is to find a job. While the job market may seem bleak, some members from the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers say there is room for optimism. They're gathering at a conference in Portland over the next few days to connect college career centers and employers and discuss the latest job trends. One of their tips is to get job seekers to be creative as well as persistent.

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John Fracchia knows he's in the minority when he says he's optimistic about the job prospects for recent college grads.
"I can only base it on what I feel like think I'm seeing: I'm seeing students getting jobs," Fracchia says.

It's Fracchia's job to help students get work. He's associate director of career services at Ithaca College in New York and president of the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers. He says the most promising industries right now are biomedical, health care, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, accounting, and engineering.

"But the thing is, that there are more jobs than people realize," he says. "But how you get to them is the issue."

Fracchia says to get a job, you have to pursue many different avenues. It's fine to check out the classifieds and job sites, but it's also important to network, go on informational interviews and job shadow.

Social media sites like LinkedIn can be useful, but Fracchia says don't forget the power of basic skills like writing. He says he's seen a decline in those skills over the years. "They still matter," he says. "I know we're now in a world of instant communication, and we have to abbreviate because we only have 140 Twitter characters, and that type of communication is great for that medium."

But resumes and cover letters are different animals, and it's more important than ever, Fracchia says, to stand out among other applicants.

Recruiters like Dylan Schweitzer from Enterprise Rent-A-Car agree to the multi-pronged approach to landing a job. Schweitzer says nationwide, Enterprise hires over 8,000 college graduates per year. Right now, they're hiring for their management training program.

"We are looking for leadership skills, we're looking for excellent communication skills, and customer service skills, and somebody who wants to be trained to become a manager," Schweitzer says.

Helen Brown works for Vector Marketing, which sells Cutco Cutlery. She says they recruit tens of thousands of college graduates per year.

"Students actually are a little bit more savvy in knowing what they want and what they're looking for. But as far as what we're looking for, we're a direct sales company. We've been established for 60 years. So we're looking for the same skill sets today: someone that's personable, can sell a product," Brown says.

Brown says she has one piece of advice for college graduates: "Be open to all different opportunities, just because you never know what doors are going to open when you work for different companies. I've been with Vector for 20 years, and I thought it was just going to be a summer job. It's the longest summer job I've ever had."

As for those entering college this fall, John Fracchia says one of the first stops on campus should be to the career center. He says even if you don't know what kind of job you want, it starts the process of steering you on the right path. "Also it gives you time as you identify that to acquire experience," he says. "Whether that's through clubs or leadership activities or volunteering in your community or internships, and frankly all three are good to build into the mix."

With those experiences, says Fracchia, you have an even greater chance of find a job when graduating.


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