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Pick up some tips after being knocked down


Dear Joyce: I'm a recent college graduate who is in extreme distress over the current job market. I've been out of school for six months and am jobless. I held a job for the entire duration of my college career. I wanted to graduate with working experience that would enhance my education. My plan hasn't worked, but friends who never worked a lick during school were hired immediately after graduation and are now holding promising entry-level positions at well-known companies.

On my last interview, I left with complete confidence that the interview was a success. The interviewer told me that he felt I would "fit in perfectly" and that the job was basically mine once I met met with the president of the company for a second interview. After a week I called him to be informed he had hired someone else. He refused to tell me what had changed his mind since our interview. I've been on four or five interviews where I felt confident that I would be offered the job but instead I end up being disappointed.

Is there anything you could suggest I do to prevent any further letdowns like the ones I've experienced? H.L.

Dear H.L.: Since you've been decked by several interview rounds, this time pick up something off the floor while you get up to try again. That something is a learning experience.

Repeat after me: "I will never again stop searching and lose the momentum of my job hunt until I actually begin a job. And even then I may not advise my open contacts that I'm off the market until I've been there a week and am fairly sure I'll stay."

Did your grades suffer while you worked? And have you learned how to deal with that issue in an interview? Your job experience is a positive factor but you have not become adept at selling it as value added.

You haven't learned how to close the sale and get an offer. Right now, make it your No. 1 priority to acquire the knowledge you'll need to surf the job market for the next 20 years. Your No. 1 stop is your college's career services office -- it offers counselors and resources for new graduates. At the same time, ask your friends to help you obtain interviews where they work.

Read these three books: "From College to Career: Entry-Level Resumes for Any Major," by Donald Asher, (new from Ten Speed Press, (800) 841-2665); "Network Your Way to Job & Career Success," by Dr. Ronald L. Krannich, (Impact Publications, (703) 361-7300); and "The Perfect Follow-Up Method to Get the Job: What To Do After Your First Interview," by Jeffrey G. Allen (Wiley, (800) 982-BOOK).

Just as many crimes are solved with carefully recorded detective work, many job opportunities are missed because leads fall through the cracks of poor record-keeping.

In a new book, "Find the Job You've Always Wanted in Half the Time with Half the Effort" by Jeffrey J. Mayer (Contemporary Books, (312) 782-9181), the author suggests you create a prospect card system using big index cards.

Keep your prospect cards in a box, using dividers numbered 1 to 31, advises Mayer. "Rotate the numbered cards forward each day of the month so that the current day is always at the front of the box, and yesterday's numbered card is placed at the back, behind all the others. Tomorrow's prospect cards will always be next in line."

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