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What to Give a 2008 College Grad

Worried about what to give a college graduate who has everything but a job? Have you considered pummeling them with career guides?

Just a hunch, but I think they would prefer your money.

Still, I generally take the passive road and give them a book store gift certificate and let them choose a nifty career guide if they want one.

I started my career before I graduated from college and, in a downturn (pre-dot.com days) I grabbed the first newspaper job with a steady paycheck. No one I knew had read a career guide or met with a career counselor, but on the other hand if they did they were undoubtedly ahead of the game. In retrospect, I was playing it just a bit too cool.

These days we are all about involving specialists because, among other reasons, the world seems way more competitive. In the context of a lukewarm job market for graduates, I would suggest doing what it takes to find an edge.

Alison Doyle's Internet Your Way To a New Job: How to Really Find a Job Online is a good general-purpose career guide worth picking-up - assuming a grad wants expert advice.

Doyle, who writes About.com's Job Searching advice column, keeps it real and uncomplicated. Want to know the four fundamental things to do online to enhance your job search? Doyle puts it succinctly:

  • "Create a professional presence on the Internet.
  • Market yourself as a strong candidate for employers.
  • Connect with contacts who will help you with your job search.
  • Help prospective employers find you."

Doyle provides strategies in each of these areas keeping the jargon to a minimum. At times, she adopts a big sister tone, like here when she's cautioning readers about branding themselves on Facebook pages:

"What you don't want prospective employers looking at is the pictures of your summer vacation or a party where you might have over-indulged a little. Perhaps employers shouldn't consider your personal life as relevant to your qualifications for a job, but they do."

To her point, in recent months, Facebook has made it easier for members to allow friends - not strangers - to view personal profile information such as photos and FunWall postings. Other people who visit Facebook profiles can be limited viewing more general profile information such as college degrees or areas of interest. However, this adjustment requires a few minutes of fiddling around with a Facebook privacy settings, something which most of us don't take the time to do.

She's at her best describing job search tactics and rails against passivity. "One of my pet peeves is when job seekers complain that nothing is happening with their job search," Doyle writes. "Those are often the people who wait a week or so to apply, don't respond to email from recruiters and contacts, and don't follow up in a timely manner." Diss!

Recent grads, new to job searches, will benefit from the recommended approaches and Doyle's checklists. There's a section in the book on online job searching do's and don'ts that pulls together some useful details such as opening a dedicated email account for job searches - thus keeping "your personal and professional life separate from your job searching one."

Doyle's book is available in paperback or as an e-book from Mitchell Levy's Happy About, which also publishes both of Jason Alba's series of useful guides: I'm on LinkedIn - Now What??? and I'm on Facebook - Now What???

Rusty Weston, My Global Career • San Francisco, Ca • http://www.myglobalcareer.com/rusty@myglobalcareer.com

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