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Career Center Director Offers Advice

Employment Opportunities Despite Tough Economy

September 16, 2008

By Debra Cano Ramos

Jim Case, Career Center Director

Despite a tough job market and economy, employment opportunities can be found, says Jim Case, Career Center director. Case offers tips and advice for upcoming graduates seeking employment — and ways they can land the job they want.

Q. What industries are hot and hiring grads?

A. Most industries have opportunities, though it is clear that the overall demand is reduced a bit from last year. For example, while the housing crisis has reduced the availability of finance- and mortgage-related jobs, there are still a number of financial services opportunities available. The technical-related industries, accounting, health care, business, government and law enforcement all continue to have a variety of openings, while some of these industries, such as government, have been effected by the budget challenges that face the state of California.

Q. What skills are employers looking for when hiring grads?

A. Employers are looking for a combination of discipline-specific skills such as accounting, engineering or graphic design that are specific to a given profession and opportunity, as well as general skills such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership and the ability to use technology, which are critical in almost every position.

Q. In today’s tough job market, what can grads do differently to land a job?

A. There are a number of avenues students can pursue. Here are some ways students can be successful in their job search:

  • Employers are increasingly using internships as a tool to hire graduates, so it is wise to incorporate one or more internships in an educational plan.
  • A well-organized campaign that starts early (at least a semester or two before you plan to graduate) is very important.
  • Likewise, it is critical that your resume and interview preparation are stellar. Online tools, such as the Titan Resume Builder and the streaming video practice interviewing software available through the Virtual Career Center, can be especially helpful here (visit for more information).
  • Students should pay particular attention to identifying both the discipline-specific and transferable skills they have to offer an employer, and be able to demonstrate these skills by providing concrete examples of how they have been utilized in a work, education or other setting.
  • Networking is still a critical part of how most graduates find their first full-time job after graduation, and in a tight market it becomes particularly important. Successful graduates take advantage of every opportunity to meet and interact with professionals in the fields of interest, extend their knowledge of preferred career fields, find out who is hiring and get personal referrals to hiring managers.

Q. What are alternatives for grads who cannot get a job in their field of study/major?

A. Many graduates take an entry-level position that creates the experience they will need to compete for a more attractive position later. For example, some teachers find they will need to be a substitute teacher for a while before they secure a full-time teaching position. If you know which field you wish to pursue, a carefully selected graduate program will increase your ability to compete, so you might consider enrolling in such a program. Most importantly, persistence is critical, especially when the job market is challenging.

Q. What are the benefits for students to attend Cal State Fullerton’s Internship & Job Fair on Sept. 17?

A. More than 160 employers from all fields will be represented, giving you the opportunity to have brief initial conversations with influential recruiters in a variety of organizations. Each of these employers has identified Cal State Fullerton students as having the potential to contribute to their organization’s ability to be successful.

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