Change strategies when no jobs come calling

Joanna Adolph

Even after work experience in four law offices, an internship, legal experience through the Washington Program in National Issues, an associate’s degree in legal-assisting technology and soon a bachelor’s degree with a focus in political science and philosophy, Alexis Reed, senior general studies major, still can’t find work.

“Surely someone will hire me with my background and the two degrees I have,” Reed said. “I’m not trying to sound like I’m great, but I think I’m at least hireable.”

Reed is one of a number of Kent State graduates this December who will not have a job by the time they receive their diploma. The national unemployment rate for graduates 25 years or older with at least at a bachelor’s degree was 2.3 percent in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If after a several thousand dollar education, the thought of going back to work at Wal-Mart is discouraging, changing marketing strategies may help.

Revamp your resume

If students aren’t getting calls back, they often need to market themselves differently, said Crystal Ake, Career Services Center counselor. The main problems she sees with graduates who haven’t found jobs are typos, grammatical errors and an overly broad focus in their resumes.

“A lot of the time, it is their resume,” Ake said. “I think you need to understand what qualities the employer wants and convey that in your resume.”

Of course, even a great resume isn’t always enough to land the job.

Reed posted her resume online with Flash Forward and, but while she checks both accounts periodically, she hasn’t received any calls about her resume from either. Reed also brought her resume to the Fall Career Expo at Kent State. Employers were impressed with her resume but did not have openings in the legal field.

“Even with just the associate’s degree there’s potential to make money, but there’s so many attorneys and paralegals that this area is kind of swamped by them,” Reed said. “People say, well, you can get a job at Burger King or Target or Wal-Mart. I have two college degrees. It’s like, please, please hire me for more than Burger King.”

Expand your horizons

The Ohio economy isn’t equal opportunity – for career fields, at least. Some majors have more job opportunities than others, Ake said. Education, architecture, human resources, fashion merchandising and fashion design are some of the areas Ake said graduates will probably have more luck if they expand their job search past Ohio’s borders.

“Know there are going to be challenges if you’re going to stay in Northeast Ohio,” Ake said. “In general, if you’re willing to move outside a concentrated area, you will have more opportunity.”

Even if graduates plan to stay in Ohio, they should send out as many resumes as possible.

“There’s always the lucky few who get the job the first place they apply to, but you have to be prepared,” Ake said. “I think when students set their heart on one place or just several places, they’re setting themselves up for disappointment. You may go on getting 20 or 30 interviews for a job, but make sure you’re not cutting yourself short by applying to too few places.”

Use your contacts

By the time graduation rolls around, most students have already networked with an assortment of friends, family, faculty and alumni, but suggests unemployed graduates go a step further and call recently graduated friends and classmates who may be able to point them in the direction of job offers they turned down during the course of their own job search.

Even re-contacting employers you previously interviewed with can be a good idea if you have been told you were the company’s second choice. The company’s first choice may have found a better offer or simply not worked out, leaving the position unfilled, according to Even in the event that the position is filled, the employer may be able to refer you to other available positions in other companies.

Freelancing also can be a good option for students graduating in areas like advertising, writing and art, according to Many companies, especially those in creative industries, may not be able to hire someone full time but still need periodic help.

Instead of resigning herself to the situation, Reed plans to spend a morning within the next several weeks at the Portage Country courthouse handing out her resume and business card to arriving lawyers, but in case she does not find work on her own, she also has contacted nationwide temporary agency Kelly Services, with whom she has held summer jobs before.

“I’ll find something,” Reed said. “I would like to get a job as a law clerk or legal assistant, but if I don’t have a job by the end of January in that field, I’ll look for any temporary job because I don’t want to get hung up when I could be saving money for law school.”

Contact alumni affairs reporter Joanna Adolph at [email protected].


15 ways to increase job-hunting success

1. Start preparing for your job search earlier than your senior year.

2. Decide on a career path.

3. Consider options such as graduate school or the type of company for which you want to work.

4. Gain work experience in your field through an internship, part-time job or volunteering.

5. Take a leadership position.

6. Take advantage of the services offered by the Career Services Center.

7. Develop a job search plan that maps out which steps you need to accomplish.

8. Write and polish one or more versions of your resume, cover letter and thank-you letter.

9. Prepare your portfolio or other samples of your work.

10. Prepare for and practice your interviewing skills.

11. Network.

12. Attend career fairs.

13. Use all available job search resources, don’t count on just one to land a job.

14. Organize your key references.

15. Follow up with employers about any job leads.