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Finding A Job

Job Search Tips for a Jobless Recovery

New college graduates are facing the worst job market in decades. Hiring is down, salaries are flat, and many grads are adrift. Entire industries have been decimated, from big carmakers to giant investment banks. But there's still hope that recent college grads can launch a rewarding career—it just might not be the one they anticipated. With the economy headed toward what many believe will be a jobless recovery, the hunt is on for industries where pockets of job growth are a real possibility. Many graduates will be perfectly positioned to take advantage of that growth; would-be teachers and nurses are particularly lucky in this regard. But many others will need to make a few last-minute adjustments to give themselves the training or experience they need to land a job in an industry where they never expected to be working. "The important thing at this point is to get into the workforce to start building skills and gaining work experience, which should position you well for promotions or career moves when the economy eventually picks up," says Barbara Hewitt, senior associate director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania. cast a wide net Rule No. 1: Forget the advice you've been given so far, and cast a wide net. "Many students are advised, and wisely so, to narrow their job search whenever possible based on their preferences and career goals," says Dan Black, Ernst & Young's Americas director of campus recruiting. "But in a tight economy, it may help to broaden your scope. Consider a greater number of companies, industries, or geographic locations if your current list is not yet yielding opportunities." Rule No. 2: Be prepared to move. When the recovery comes, it's likely to impact some places earlier than others. According to a report by MSNBC and Moody's ( (MCO)), job growth will return first to Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, and Washington State, starting in the fourth quarter, as pent-up demand for new technology (and in Texas, a concentration of energy companies) spur the local economies. And in the second quarter of 2010 a second wave of job growth is expected in Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, and South Dakota. What follows is a road map to the recovery—the industries where jobs are expected to come early and grow faster than the rest of the economy. HEALTH CARE
If any industry represents a bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy, it's health care. With baby boomers aging and health-care reform in the air, this industry is expected to be the largest single source of U.S. job growth through 2016, according to a new report by the President's Council of Economic Advisers. The already rapid growth in health-related jobs from 2000 to 2006 is expected to accelerate over the next few years, adding more than 3 million new jobs annually—everything from doctors, dentists, and nurses to jobs in health information technology. "People get sick," notes Standard & Poor's Chief Economist David Wyss, "regardless of the state of the economy." Great news if you're in medical school, but what if you're not and you have no interest in studying for a career in medicine? For business students who are not ready or willing to trade in their suits for scrubs, there will be management positions to be had with hospitals, nursing homes, pharmaceutical companies, health insurers, and affiliated business. For tech students, the burgeoning field of electronic medical records is a potential jobs gold mine. For everybody else, the solution could be as simple as changing majors—many undergraduate business programs take just two years. Enrolling in a business certificate program such as the one offered by Northwestern University's , or even just taking a few business courses before graduation, are also options. An internship at a hospital or other health-care employer would supply some much-needed experience, as would an industry-specific volunteer position at a nursing home for example. EDUCATION
At the moment, the educational establishment might not seem as if it holds much hope for job-seeking college graduates. After all, with cash-strapped states cutting back on educational aid to local school districts, few are in a position to ramp up hiring. Even colleges and universities, victims of a recessionary one-two punch that has cut deeply into state aid and endowment income, are cutting back. At business schools, financial hard times are leading to layoffs, salary freezes, even program shutdowns. But that may be about to change. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will pump $90 billion into education, with half of it going to local school districts. Over the next eight years job growth in the sector is expected to put teaching, post-secondary and elementary, among the fastest-growing occupations in the nation. And Presidential priorities aimed at reducing college dropout rates include everything from investment in community colleges to new degree programs for high-demand industries. To land a job in education when you lack the necessary training and experience isn't easy, since the barriers to entry can be quite high—full-time teachers usually have specialized degrees, and college professor candidates typically need a PhD. But there are back-door routes. The academic hurdles for being a teacher's aide or substitute teacher are far lower—you can do both jobs before you even get your undergraduate degree—and they put much-needed classroom experience on your résumé. Even better, sign up for a two-year teaching gig with , the organization that dispatches college grads of all stripes to teach in urban and rural school districts across the country in order to eliminate educational inequality. No special qualifications are needed, and TFA is growing—over the next two years it expects to increase the number of teachers in the classroom by 17%, to 4,224. Even if you ultimately decide that teaching isn't for you, the TFA experience on your resume will open doors two years down the road, when it might be easier to find that dream job. "Programs like Teach for America or the Peace Corps provide valuable experience and build critical skills that employers typically look for," says E&Y's Black. GREEN BUSINESS
It's no secret that America is going green. Green jobs are popping up everywhere, whether it's the technician installing solar panels on a home, the scientist researching ways to build better batteries for electric cars, or the executive looking for ways to reduce waste, eliminate unnecessary packaging, and cut costs. Job growth in this area is expected to top 50% by 2016, nearly four times the job growth for all other occupations combined, according to the federal government. And a number of Presidential initiatives, including billions in new investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy research, are likely to accelerate that job growth. For obvious reasons, many of these positions are in the energy sector, and landing those jobs without some kind of industry-specific academic or business experience will be tough, but not impossible. A few business schools offer specialized programs, such as the energy business and finance program at Penn State's (Penn State Undergraduate Business Profile).But a better bet might be enrolling in a few courses in the engineering or earth sciences school instead, or perhaps find an industry-specific internship. If nothing else, you will demonstrate an interest in the industry. Nonenergy jobs will require a bit more research. While the recession has forced some companies to back off from their sustainability efforts, many others are continuing to invest, including General Electric ( (GE)), Wal-Mart ( (WMT)), and Archer Daniels Midland ( (ADM)). Reaching out to alumni from those companies—whether or not they're involved in their company's green initiatives—is one way to get your foot in the door. GOVERNMENT
With hundreds of thousands of federal government employees expected to retire through 2012, and another 200,000 to be added as part of the economic stimulus plan, the federal government is about to undergo one of its biggest hiring booms in a long time. Among the federal agencies expected to lead the way: the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Affairs Dept., the Environmental Protection Agency, the Defense Dept., the Food & Drug Administration, the Small Business Administration, and many others. The federal government hires people for 900 different occupations, and different government jobs have different requirements. But that's a good thing—if you're not picky about where you work, chances are Uncle Sam has a job for which you're already qualified. But it doesn't hurt to improve your skills. The official jobs site of the U.S. government,, lists application requirements for every government job, which sometimes include specialized work experience. If you'd like to be an economist with the Bureau of Economic Analysis, for example, you'll need research or teaching experience—a cinch if you're enrolled in a graduate program. For some jobs, academic qualifications can replace work experience, and if you haven't already graduated, a few extra courses could do the trick. Want to be a statistician with the Census Bureau? You'll need at least 15 semester hours in statistics. TEMPORARY WORK
Few college students dream of a career in temp work or freelancing, or a never-ending stream of post-graduation internships. Changing jobs every few months or juggling multiple assignments from multiple employers, typically for very low pay, is at best an uncertain path to a successful career. But for job seekers in a jobless recovery, temp work has its advantages, and not just because it pays the bills. For graduates who lack the experience they need to switch industries or careers, a few temp assignments in the new role supplies some much-needed work experience that makes landing a permanent position more likely. Combined with the right educational credentials, temp experience can be the ticket to a permanent career in health care, education, government, or green business. Temporary employees are typically the first to go when a recession begins—the industry continues to be among the hardest hit during this downturn—but they're also among the first to be hired as a recession winds down, as many employers hold off on making permanent hires until they're sure they're out of the woods. Bottom line: When the recovery begins, temp positions will likely be more plentiful than they are today. That said, there are still plenty of jobs. Kelly Services ( (KELYA)) places 650,000 people a year, while Manpower ( (MAN)) finds jobs for 312 people every minute of every day. Tapping into your own networks—via LinkedIn, Doostang, and other sites—or reaching out to alumni in your targeted industries are also great options.
Lauren Brittany Glover is a writer for the B-Schools department at BusinessWeek.

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