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Finding Your First Job

Finding your first full-time job after graduating college is a daunting task. Stephanie AuWerter, Editor of SmartMoney.com, has some tips for making the search a little less stressful.

Contrary to popular belief, today's job outlook is not too bad. "College grads are cheap hires, and that's what a lot of employers are looking for right now, particularly as the baby boomers really start to retire," says AuWerter. There are several strong job markets today, including engineering, accounting and computer science.

While the internet may seem like a great place to start your job hunt, consider tapping into more personal contacts first, like your parent's friends, old professors and acquaintances. "A face-to-face conversation is more effective than something that's done completely online," says AuWerter.

Once you've located a prospective employer, be personal when you contact them. Don't just address a cover letter with "Dear Sir" or "To Whom It May Concern". "You want to find out the name of the person who's making the hiring decision," says AuWerter. Sell yourself. Don't just say you'd like a position; stress why you would like a position with that particular company.

Once you land an interview, be sure to dress professionally. Also, "If you have a MySpace page or a Facebook page, clean it up!" says AuWerter. In such a tech-savy age, employers don't hesitate to do a little online research about prospective employees. So those pictures of your wild and crazy nights at college? They may need to come down. The same goes for your voicemail message on your cellphone. Change it to something short and professional instead of a joke or three minutes or music.

After an interview, always follow up and send a thank you note. "You need to write a thank you note," says AuWerter. "If you don't do that, you're not going to get hired." Following up via email is fine too, but a hand written thank you note always sends a more personal message.

Overall, you want to send the right message to an employer. Keep in mind that you need a job from them - they don't necessarily need you. It's up to you to convince them that they should hire you over everyone else. "Don't go in there with the attitude of, 'what can you do for me'," says AuWerter.

For more information on finding a job, as well as additional personal financial advice, click here to visit www.SmartMoney.com.

By Erin Petrun