You are about to invest a lot of money for a college education with the expectation that a degree will land you employment after graduation. How will you best assure a return on this investment (ROI)? News flash! In today’s global workplace a degree alone is no longer a direct ticket to a professional job. Students must engage strategically outside the classroom as early as freshman year to become successful in landing employment after graduation. This means leveraging a whole new set of strategies not taught in the traditional college classroom. Related: 3 Ways To Emphasize Your ROI On Your Resume By the year 2020 over 40% of jobs will be contract work (The Intuit 2020 report). As more companies downsize full time employees and replace them with contract employees, the job search process will change considerably. Fewer companies will utilize placement offices at colleges and universities in order to find candidates. Instead, job seekers will rely more and more on social media, professional connections and professional referrals to locate work. Therefore, college students must start building and nurturing strong professional relationships the minute they step foot on campus. And, here are four strategies to get started.

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I just finished reading an article in Crane’s New York Business titled Recent College Grads Face a Tough Job Market. The article quotes that 52% of New York City-based company heads will not be hiring fresh graduates at this time. Why? New graduates require more time and costs due to their lack of business experience, their need for training, and expectations that do not align with the reality of work. Related: 7 Tips For Finding A Job After College Additional employment challenges for new graduates include higher unemployment rates due to uncertainties in the economy. When these uncertainties occur, entry level hiring is the first to go. Even more so is a challenge that comes from new graduates’ own peers; those with current internships. The business world is seeing greater numbers of employers relying on employee referrals and internal hiring of current interns over campus recruiting-strategies that significantly cut down on company recruitment and training costs. So, what should college students be doing now to increase their future employability? Get experience! Start as early as freshman year and build on that experience. And, here are ways to do just that.

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One of the most dreaded terms in all of job searching has to be networking. Perhaps because it seems so manipulative, intimidating and insincere. If this is how you perceive networking, then you are misunderstanding it completely. True, successful networking is about building genuine professional relationships and nurturing them. Once you grasp this definition and approach networking from this context, your dread will dissipate and you will feel much more positive about utilizing this strategy. Related: 3 Tips For Building Strong Business Relationships Here are eight strategies to help build genuine professional relationships, launch an amazing network, and set in motion an abundance of opportunities for future partnerships, collaborations and alliances.

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