For graduates, job markets are good, but network, network, network

December 15, 2015   /   by Damian Cristodero

So you’ve graduated. Now what? For many, it’s time to look for a job. The good news is that the outlook is positive,  said Saskia Clay-Rooks, associate director of University Career Services at George Mason University. Nationally, about 50 percent of employers are expected to increase their hiring next year, Clay-Rooks said. There are 844 jobs on the HireMason website, up from 705 at this time last year, and 276 employers have recruited on campus, up from 246.

In this Q&A, Clay-Rooks, who will be interim director of University Career Services after Christine Cruzvergara leaves to become associate provost for career education at Wellesley College, said a successful job search is about one’s approach.

Q: What’s the best advice for job seekers?

A: The top recruiting mechanisms for employers are career fairs, internships, employee referrals. So the more people you talk to and meet who see you perform, who can vouch for you, the better a job search will go. You can’t just sit behind a computer. People hire people, is one thing I like to say. I also like to say you can network or not work.

Q: Why is networking so important?

A: Eighty percent of jobs are filled through word-of-mouth, so we say spend 80 percent of your job search time talking to people, going to events, doing informational interviews and getting out there where you interact with people who can tell you about positions, put in a good word and watch out for your application.

Q: What are the hot job sectors?

A: Cybersecurity and data analytics are huge, and they’re only expected to grow. More opportunities in the next decade or so will be in engineering, because our country is going to have to invest in infrastructure; health care, because of the aging of the Baby Boomers; and the insurance industry.

Q: How are Mason graduates doing?

A: Seventy-nine percent of the class of 2015 is either employed, enrolled in graduate or professional school, in the military or doing volunteer work. Our numbers stack up well against the national average of 73.4 percent. Fifty-nine percent of Class of 2015 undergraduates who received a bachelor's degree are employed, as are 76 percent who received a graduate degree.

Q: How can University Career Services help?

A: Advisors can share the best resources and websites for a particular industry. We can give details on resumes. Are they using the right keywords? Are they highlighting the right skills and experiences? They need to do practice interviews, and that’s something they can do through our office as well. And we have tons of networking events to connect students with employers.

Q: Final thoughts?

A: Do your homework. Know what you want to go into; customize your application materials. You should probably not watch the news too much. People are getting this gloom-and-doom message. The reality is, college students are being hired.