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Hunting for a job during a recession can feel like hitchhiking — only the road is lined as far as the eye can see with other hopefuls, all waving their thumbs and trying to get noticed.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Career Services office provides a road map for students, recent graduates and other alumni on a trek that can, at times, be confusing, overwhelming and repetitive.

Before attending Career Fair on the Fox on Feb. 12, job seekers should consider these five tips from Career Services Director Jaime Page-Stadler:

1.  Know yourself

“You are selling a product — you! You must figure our how best to market your product, which involves a careful and thorough assessment of yourself and what you can bring to a future employer.

“According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook, 2008, the ‘Top 12 Qualities/Skills Employers Seek in a Job Candidate’ are as follows:

  • Communication
  • Strong work ethic
  • Teamwork
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Computer
  • Technical
  • Detailed-oriented
  • Organizational

2.  Define your criteria

“Be honest, but do not look desperate. Employers are looking for qualified candidates that know what they want and can articulate their skills. Understanding what you need in a position to be satisfied will assist you in finding a fit.

“Qualities that you should consider in your criteria are size of city, distance from family and friends, benefits, opportunities for advancement, variety of work, travel,  and environment, just to list a few. Remember you are the one that can tear down or build up barriers in your search. Try to keep an open mind and consider as many opportunities as you can.

3.  Perfect your search materials

“Is your resume and cover letter flawless? If not, make sure they are. Have your resume critiqued by several people, including Career Services, professors, classmates and professionals in the field.

4.  Map out your strategy

“It is always good to have a comprehensive plan to ensure you have capitalized on all opportunities. Here are some strategies:

  • Respond to position openings. Develop a list of solid job search sites and check them regularly.
  • Develop a target list of employers. You are in the driver’s seat of your search. Think about the companies and organizations you would like to work for and contact them directly. Eighty percent of positions are not advertised.
  • Network, network, network! Pass along your resume and business card to family members, friends and professional contacts to let them know you are searching for a job.
  • Attend career events. This would include job fairs and employer open houses. Talk to as many recruiters as possible to find out about current and future opportunities.
  • Do research and use employment agencies. Employment agencies always are looking for qualified individuals with ranging levels of experience. Be sure to do your research to determine the credibility of the agency and the employers that contract with the agency.

5.  Be professional

“Practice proper etiquette by keeping a list of all leads and contacts. Follow up in a timely manner. Attire is important in a search as well, so always be sure to look neat, clean and well-groomed.

“Researching the industry/organization will give you some insight on attire. When in doubt be conservative. Remember that your first impression can last a lifetime.”

Other Career Services’ resources

  • Titan Jobs (www.uwosh.edu/career/TitanJobs.php) — an online recruiting system where students can search for jobs, internships and volunteer positions. Students can create online portfolios, upload their resumes and cover letters, and sign up for Career Services events.
  • Events — mock interviews, dining with professionals and career fairs all give students experience in networking and interacting professionally.
  • Information — match your major with a career, take a career assessment or view sample resumes and cover letters.
  • Office services — have your resume critiqued, learn how to negotiate a salary or receive help in building your portfolio.

For more information about Career Services, Career Fair on the Fox and other events, call (920) 424-2181 or visit www.uwosh.edu/career.

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