College seniors: Take a broad view when job-hunting

In this Wednesday, Dec. 12 2012 photo, Taneshia Wright, of Manhattan, fills out a job application during a job fair in New York. Economists forecast that employers added 155,000 jobs in December, according to a survey by FactSet. That would be slightly higher than November's 148,000. The unemployment rate is projected to remain at 7.7 percent. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

After a couple of rough years, things are looking up for college graduates, says John Challenger, who heads the Chicago outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

To take advantage of the growing job market, seniors should take a broader look at career possibilities.

"Graduates should not confine their searches to a specific industry or occupation," he wrote in a statement. "The job market is not robust enough to provide the ideal job situation for every individual.  It seldom is.  So, someone may come out of college with the plan to find a marketing position with a consumer products company.  There’s nothing wrong with having a specific goal like that, but don’t make the mistake of adhering to it so closely that you overlook opportunities in marketing for a chemical company or health care provider, for example.”

That kind of broad perspective is necessary given the tough competition in the job market.

"In this economy, it is likely that they will be vying for entry-level job opportunities with those who have been in the workforce for one to five years.  They may even be competing with [older workers] looking for any opportunity to continue working even it means taking a dramatic cut in pay, title and responsibility,” he wrote.

One advantage the young have is their relative lack of ties to any geographic area. So, says Challenger, don't be afraid to move to where the jobs are. In Lincoln, Nebraska, for example, the unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in January, about half of the unemployment rate in this region.