With the economy in one of its worst recessions in decades, Belmont students graduating this year may find themselves facing a difficult job search experience.
And nowhere is this difficulty more evident than in the Belmont Office of Career Services.
“I’m seeing good, quality students who have done their homework and have done well at Belmont and have done internships, they’ve done community service,” said Patricia Jacobs, Director of the Belmont Office of Career Services. “And I keep hearing over and over that they’re having a very difficult time finding a job.”
Jacobs says that traffic to Career Services has “increased significantly” in recent months. “Not only do we have three of us seeing individuals, we are booked,” said Jacobs. “We have brought in a part-time person to help us—she’s been working for us as a career specialist.”
But the Belmont Office of Career Services has a number of services that Jacobs hopes students will take advantage of, especially in these economically trying times. These services include resume review, interview training and annual recruiting events.
Jacobs also encourages students to visit Belmont Career Services online, where they can find a career planning guide, information about upcoming job fairs and even a page called “What can I do with this major?”, a helpful tool for newer students deciding on potential career paths.
The Belmont Career Services website also features the Belmont University CareerConnector, CareerBeam and a list of additional online career resources. Jacobs says she sees too many students using national job-search sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, when many of the best opportunities can be found on local job-search sites, like the ones featured on the Belmont Career Services site.
Lori LeBleu, Director of Career Development for Belmont’s College of Business Administration, says too many students live by the philosophy, “I’ll start looking for a job when things get better,” a phenomenon LeBleu calls “recessions paralysis.”
But LeBleu says the recession is no reason to give up on job-searching, especially since “often times recent college graduates can find jobs because they aren’t at the high salary level.”
LeBleu encourages students to get their job searches started early and to “look for jobs that are not affected by a downturn in consumer spending.” She suggests students look at jobs related to the development of clean energy, while Jacobs says the healthcare industry is still hiring.
LeBleu also says that balancing specific ambitions with openness to multiple opportunities is critical to job search success.
“I would recommend that you go into the job market with a focus on what you would ideally like to do, but you should kind of balance focus with flexibility,” she said. But she urges students to avoid coming across as too flexible. Because when recent graduates take on jobs that are clearly beneath their skill level, LeBleu warns, the employer will “know that the minute the economy turns, you’re gone.”
LeBleu hosts a Job Search Strategy Workshop for an hour every Thursday, at 3:30 p.m. in Massey Business Center room 100.
Looking back to four years ago, when today’s Belmont seniors were just freshmen, Jacobs says that “no one could have pictured what we’re experiencing today.” But both she and LeBleu encourage Belmont students to seek help in planning their careers.
“You have spent all of this time and money on your education, you need to be planning for your future,” said Jacobs. “We would encourage students to come in and sit down with us and work with us as they’re developing their plans.”