It's graduation season for the Class of 2010, a cause for celebration and, for some, possible panic over finding a job.
Today's graduates are facing a slightly better job market than last year's grads, with employers making 5 percent more offers this season, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which tracks recruitment data among entry-level hires.
NACE also found that 24 percent of 2010 college graduates who applied for a job have one waiting after graduation, up from 20 percent last year. That means their classmates have their work cut out for them.
Fortunately, there are tried and true steps every new grad can take right now to get hired. Since it's impossible to predict which tactics will prove the most successful, it's essential to use them all.
Maximize the benefits of social networking sites.
Become active and professionally engaged on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Most new grads use just one or two of the sites, and they're ignoring LinkedIn because it feels boring without the same instant feedback and fancy photos as Facebook. Big mistake -- LinkedIn usually has the best contacts. Use the free tutorials on the site to get started.
Attend the right networking events.
Be strategic about when and where you show up and what you do once you arrive. Very often young jobseekers wander aimlessly at such gatherings, unsure of who to chat with or what to say. They leave disappointed.
The first step is to determine which events to attend. Choose industry-specific functions over general pink-slip parties. This includes the likelihood of meeting employed professionals who may be in a position to introduce you to your next employer.
Call ahead to ask event organizers about the agenda, the scheduled speakers and the general make-up of the attendees. This helps you to feel more confident walking in the door.
Go alone and have your spiel ready. Bringing someone with you means you'll cling to each other instead of making new contacts. Unless your pal is an extrovert who knows how to work the room effectively, rely only on yourself to make new connections.
Depending on the event, it may seem awkward to bring your resume, which is why professional business cards are essential. More important than passing out your own card is collecting the contact information from any good leads.
If there's a cost, ask to get in free by volunteering to help the organizers.
Show up in person.
In some industries it may be acceptable or even encouraged to show up to apply in person. Think hospitals, restaurants, retail establishments, hotels, other hospitality-related venues, and more.
They key is to walk in ready to interview, not just to grab an application. Make small talk with a receptionist and other personnel in the HR office by asking directly about openings and seeking advice on how best to get noticed. This is a way to establish a connection, put a face to your resume and show off a winning personality.
One word of caution -- don't show up unannounced to private offices. It's a turn-off to employers when they're greeted by unexpected visitors seeking employment. Be sure that showing up is the norm in your line of work.
Pursue temporary to permanent.