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College graduates face tough job market

Congratulations to the college graduating class of 2013!

You've worked hard, earned your degree, and are now probably having to hear what my father started asking me repeatedly the day I got my diploma: "Now what are you going to do with that degree?"

Welcome to the labor market.

Unfortunately, as you may have read between all-night cramming sessions, it's tough out there these days. Opportunities are tight, and competition is fierce.

The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is 13.1 percent, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That's considerably higher than the overall unemployment rate of 7.5 percent.

So the pressure is that much higher for new grads to land a job. You need all the help you can get.

Last week, I saw an article on about some common errors seen by hiring managers that hurt applicants' chances of getting hired.

Some of these bear repeating:

n Typos and spelling errors.

National staffing firm Adecco surveyed 500 hiring managers asking for the most common mistake that disqualifies 18- to 24-year-olds from consideration, and 43 percent said spelling errors were the biggest problem.

Mispelled wordz rooin credability.

Remember, you can't rely on spell-check to correct all of you're mistakes? (See what I did there?)

Be safe. Give your resume and a red pen to at least two of your most grammar-snobbish friends and tell them to go to town.

n Dressing inappropriately.

Half of all hiring managers said the biggest mistake people make during their interview is not dressing the part.

Someone once taught me that even if I'm applying for a job at Taco Bell, I should go in a suit and tie. They were right.

Remember, you're selling yourself. Look sharp. It'll help.

n Missing your interview.

Forty-four percent of hiring managers said a big mistake young job seekers made was showing up late, on the wrong date or at the wrong time.

Don't do it. Buy a calendar, set 15 iPhone alarms, put Post-it notes everywhere — whatever it takes to make it there on time.

And be extra cautious to avoid travel problems that could delay your arrival.  

I once had a boss say that whenever I was planning to go somewhere, I should give myself enough time to change a flat tire on the way. Maybe you don't need to go that far, but at a minimum give yourself a 15- to 20-minute cushion to deal with any traffic problems that could crop up along the way.

After all, you don't want your prospective employer's first impression to be you apologizing for not knowing Mayor Danny Jones had closed Kanawha Boulevard for a car show that day.

Plus, being a little early will give you a chance to breathe, relax and calm those pesky butterflies that can crop up ahead of that first big interview.


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