Starting the job hunt

Online presence: Take down drunken Facebook photos and spruce up your LinkedIn profile.

Network: Talk to everyone you know about possible references and possible job availability.

Take advantage of resources: Career Services has free online job postings, career counselors and resume advice for students and alumni.

Ready recommendations: Have general recommendation letters on hand at all times.

Source: Lisa Severy, director of CU Career Services, careerservices.colorado.edu

If you go

What: Spring Career and Internship Fair

When: Jan. 22 and 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: University Memorial Center

More: http://careerservices.colorado.edu/students/springFair.aspx

A s spring semester begins most seniors at the University of Colorado will begin planning their post-college lives, if they haven't started already.

With only one semester left, many life changes are headed their way -- including finding a job.


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Lisa Severy, director of CU Career Services, said she recommends May graduates start their job search in the fall. But it's not too late to snag something great.

For students who waited until the spring to get started, Severy said there are a few basic tips that could help soon-to-be graduates nail down a job.

Google yourself

"A growing number of... employers use the internet to learn more about candidates," Severy said. "Run a search on your own name to see what they will see. Try to get anything you wouldn't want a graduate school or employer to see removed quickly."

Trevor Martin, a University of Colorado School of Journalism Grad, landed a job with MTV after graduating in 2007.
Trevor Martin, a University of Colorado School of Journalism Grad, landed a job with MTV after graduating in 2007. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

And for those seniors who might find only Facebook posts in their search, Severy suggests plugging into some professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn to help boost your online persona. It's also a great place to start networking and search for companies with job opportunities.

CU graduate Blake Wilcox said it took him five months to find his current job in customer service after graduating with his bachelor's degrees in Humanities and English in May.

After five months, Monster.com helped Wilcox get his job with IBM in Boulder.

For current seniors, Wilcox had some advice. "I would post my resume on at least Monster and LinkedIn," he said. "I got a ton of calls via Monster, especially."

Network, network, network

"Employers offering positions now are overwhelmed by the number of applications they receive for a single posting," Severy said. "When they need help, they are more likely to turn to trusted colleagues and even friends for recommendations that will help them to narrow down the crowd."

Make sure you tell everyone you know, personally and professionally, that you're on the hunt for a job and you would love some referrals. Alumni in your field could also be a great resource for recommendations and networking.

Don't forget to post that you're seeking employment on your LinkedIn profile or with industry and alumni groups.

"Try to think of any advantage you might have over the rest of the job-seekers and exploit that," Wilcox said. "Use your parents, friends, anyone."

Prepare recommendations early

May might seem like the distant future, but it's only five months away, and that means you lose easy access to professors and other potential references soon.

"Collecting letters of recommendation and other credentials becomes more difficult after you leave campus," Severy said. "Take a moment to ask your professors, advisors, and anyone else you are close to here at CU to write a general letter of recommendation."

Severy said while it's good to have a specific recommendation for a particular position you're applying for, you can always go back to the reference and ask them to elaborate or adjust a generic letter.

"You can always ask for a tailored letter later, but having one on hand will be helpful in urgent situations or if that person becomes difficult to contact," she said.

Career Services offers an online resource for students and graduates to store their recommendation letters and other documents.

Don't give up

Wilcox said the job hunt won't be easy, and seniors should be prepared for a fight.

"It's going to be really crappy for a lot of people, so you need to save yourself whatever grief you can," Wilcox said. "Honestly, it was horribly stressful and frustrating because people won't even talk to you 75 percent of the time."

Wilcox applied for about 50 jobs during his five-month search, he said, and looked at more than 100 positions.

But Severy said students shouldn't give up hope just yet. Her last tip for graduates is to take advantage of the tools available through Career Services.

Students have access to career fairs, career counselors and online job listings through careerservices.colorado.edu . And they're all free to students.