Michael Uribes/The Collegian | Source:Fresno State Career Center

Approximately 3.5 million students in the United States graduate from college each year, with around 5,000 of them coming from Fresno State. More than a million of these students fail to find a job that pays well and has career potential.

Are there clear and specific reasons why so many college seniors and recent graduates can’t find a good job?

Yes, Rita Bocchinfuso-Cohen, director of Fresno State’s career services, said.

“The downturn in the economy affected the new college graduate market about two years ago,” Bocchinfuso-Cohen said.

The economy was in a downturn before that, Bocchinfuso-Cohen said, but it typically affects the general job market before it hits the new college graduate market.

Students are often focused on their studies and graduation, not on what happens after graduation, she said.

“You have to put together a plan,” business major Megan Sullivan said. “Your degree alone won’t get you on the payroll.”

Author and former campus recruiter Bob Roth says that although many students expect to receive a job offer as the result of campus interviews, very few actually do. So, if students aren’t prepared to conduct a strong and competitive job search over a long period of time, they risk being disappointed and frustrated.

“There are jobs out there,” Bocchinfuso-Cohen said, but those with experience and knowledge often aren’t using the right sources to find these jobs. “They may be looking in the newspaper.”

Michael A. Fletcher of the Washington Post agrees.

“Even as [Fresno] has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, it has thousands of job openings.”

Jain Irrigation relocated to Fresno five years ago from Southern California, and since then their workforce has grown tremendously. But although they constantly have job openings, those who apply for the jobs lack the technical skills needed to fill the positions.

“The job requires at least a high school education, and maybe some technical training,” Jain president Aric J. Olson said. “But we don’t seem to be getting the right people applying.”

Job search networking is one answer, experts say. At least 60 percent of all jobs are found by networking.

“Your best resources are going to be personal networking,” Bocchinfuso-Cohen said. “The people you know, the contacts you have, letting them know that you’re looking for a position, what kind of position, and putting yourself out there.”

Political science major Thomas Lyday has plans to get a job in government or the public policy field after graduation.

“I’d hate to think that I went through all this for nothing,” Lyday said.

During President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last month, he said the nation is facing a new “Sputnik moment” that demands a renewed focus on innovation and education to secure its economic future.

Education is the key to many job opportunities. Fresno’s Community Medical Center has many job openings, Ginny Burdick, senior vice president for human resources at CMC, said.

“We have every kind of job there is,” he said. “Some take four-year degrees. Some take two-year degrees. Some take no degree at all.”

Both Bocchinfuso-Cohen and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin advocate the same approach for finding a job: Look in an industry that interests you and then get training or skills you will need to top the competition.

“Choose a field you’re passionate about rather than what’s hot now,” Bocchinfuso-Cohen said.

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