Want A Job? Go to the Career Center

career cetnerDo you want to know a way to give yourself a three-to-one edge on landing a job when you get out of college?

I'll give you the two word answer: Career center.

A recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed that graduating college seniors who used their school's career center had a much greater chance of landing a job, and the more often they used the services of the career center, the higher their chances were of getting hired. Of the students who participated in the study, 71 percent who got jobs had used the services of their school's career center.

"This reinforces previous research we've conducted that shows a link between career center use and job-search success," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. "The message is clear: The campus career center is an important resource for student job seekers."

All kinds of help

The No. 1 service used by students is resume writing and reviewing assistance. But that is not the only service that career centers provide and that students can take advantage of in their search for work.

According to Fred Burke, executive director of The Career Center at Hofstra University, students can get help in all sorts of areas.

"In addition to resume and cover letter development and review, we can set up mock/practice interviews," he said, adding that they can also help with market and career research: "For example if a certain industry is not hiring, we may be able to discuss with students other possible career paths to explore that will help them develop their careers. We can assist students with career decision-making and often help with salary and benefit negotiation."

Burke says that students are smart to get help in their resume and cover letter presentations.

"Some of the biggest mistakes I see people make are poor and sloppy resumes and cover letters," he said. "That's the first impression you make on an employer so that should be an outstanding first impression."

Not just for college seniors

Burke told me that it is never too early to start using the services of a career center.

"First and second year students can use the office to discuss possible majors. Many of us offer various assessments that are free to students to assist in this process. Once those career goals are formulated, we can begin to implement them into internships and other career-related part-time work."

And, at many schools, career centers are not just for students. Many centers offer ongoing advice and help for alumni. My alma mater, Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, even has an online service called MEDILLINK that provides career advice, job listings, and networking for all graduates of the school.

So, next time you walk past the career center at your school, stop in and say hello. It may be the first step toward landing that job after you graduate.

Next:Best Places for Entry-Level Jobs >>

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