How new grads can land dream jobs

After many long years of all-nighters, dry textbooks and verbose lectures, students across the country are leaving school, degree in hand. Now it’s time to relax — right?

Student debt and parents are subtly suggesting that it’s time to move out of the basement. Sigh. It’s time to get a job.

Although the economy is recovering, there isn’t exactly a lot of room for new graduates in the job market.

Here’s how they are sharpening their job-finding skills to snag that career-starting job.

Find jobs that aren’t listed

Most new job openings are never actually publicly posted. Jobs in the “hidden job market” are filled by someone who knows someone who knows someone.

New grads need to plug into this market by telling everyone they know that they’re looking for a job and what kind of job they want. Professors can be a great source of job search help, being connected with people who have inside knowledge of opportunities specific to their field.

Spruce up the resumé

Chances are, everyone who is applying for a given job has a degree. So, unless grads have truly spectacular marks, those degrees aren’t going to make them stand out.

“What employers are really concerned about beyond (the degree) is, what have you done outside of the classroom?” says Keturah Leonforde, a career consultant at Wilfrid Laurier University. Don’t just list activities — grads need to show what they learned from their experiences.

Expand the search

There are a lot more “poli-sci” grads than political scientists out there, but that doesn’t mean toss your degree.

“Social science is more valuable than people think. Employers are looking for people with social skills who can communicate,” says Erik Dickson, who just wrote his last exam in political science at Brock University. “For example, without ever having taken a marketing class, I feel like I am a strong candidate for a marketing position.”

Employers are looking for employees who are intelligent and trainable — and that’s what a degree says. Grads will have a much easier time finding a job if they’re open-minded about what that job may be.

Erin Millar is co-author of the student guidebook The Canadian Campus Companion.

From books to bucks : how to manage your student loan

Graduation means the relationship between students and their federal and provincial student loan providers is about to undergo a significant change — instead giving students money, they now expect students to pay.

• You have a six-month, interest-free grace period, but as soon as you land a job, start making payments right away because interest starts adding up immediately.

• If you can’t find a job and can’t afford your payments, apply for the Repayment Assistance Plan right away — before your account falls into arrears.

• Keep in touch with student loan providers and make sure they have your contact and banking information up to date.

• If you decide to go back to school, inform your student loan providers so they will suspend interest.

• Protect your credit ratings by keeping in touch and staying current with your payments.