First, college students need pick the right career field. Certain jobs are easier to find than others. "It's more important now than ever," says AuWerter. "This job market is ugly." However, AuWerter says engineering, accounting and computer science are all fields that are doing well. Fields like the arts or financial services, though, can prove more difficult. Try to avoid looking for a job in these fields right now, if you can help it.
Also, be sure you're looking for a job in all the right places. While the internet is a valuable tool, nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. "It's much more powerful than just sending an email," says AuWerter. Network all your connections, including old teachers and your parent's friends. You never know where a job may come from.
So how do you get those face-to-face meetings? Target your audience and make things as personal. When writing a cover letter, don't address it, "Dear Sir," or "To Whom It May Concern." Instead, find out who the actual person is that the letter is going to and address it to them. "Make that cover letter as targeted as possible," says AuWerter. "Don't say that you want a job in, say, marketing; say why you want a job in marketing at this particular company."
Once you land an interview, dress the part. "Even if you are applying to a company that's pretty hip, you want to cover up those tattoos," says AuWerter. Wear business clothes, not casual clothes. Also, consider cleaning up your personal web pages like MySpace or Facebook. Many companies are now researching their candidates online before they hire them.
It's also important not to act too confident in the interview. A candidate who is perceived as being snooty isn't going to get the job. "It's absolutely essential that they ask lots of questions. Really listen to the skills that the hiring manager says he or she is looking for and target their answers based on that information," says AuWerter.
When the interview is over, make sure you send a thank you note, preferably one that's been written by hand. "It is an absolutely essential last step," says AuWerter.
For more information on finding your first job, as well as additional personal financial advice, click here to visit www.SmartMoney.com.
By Erin Petrun By Erin Petrun