The largest college career fair in New Jersey returns on Thursday, January 7, when Rutgers hosts “New Jersey Collegiate Career Day” at its New Brunswick campus. The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Rutgers Student Center and in Brower Commons, and is free to attend. Visit http://careerservices.rutgers.edu for more information.

Counselors advise attendees to bring multiple copies of their resumes and be prepared for an interview. The school will not collect resumes on the day of the fair, however.

Rutgers’ career services offers a set of tips for a successful job search:

Emphasize knowledge and skills. Employers are looking for people who can make an immediate contribution. Skills in communication, problem-solving, and analysis are always in demand but your knowledge-based skills might distinguish you from other candidates and be interpreted as a way to make an immediate contribution.

Plan to build experience. Your first or second job will likely not be in the industry you settle into long-term. Try not to limit yourself to only searching for the ideal job.

Also, consider a smaller step. In order to earn a living, you might need to temporarily consider jobs that underutilize your college education. Working evenings or weekends to make money or pay off loans can allow you time to volunteer during the daytime hours for organizations where you can enhance your job-related skills.

Think temporary. Check out temporary employment agencies as a gateway into organizations or fields of interest. It can allow a foot in the door, and provide the chance to network and prove yourself.

Do your homework. Find out what the entry-level positions and the hiring process and position are for the industry or organization you want to work for. Don’t just broadly apply for jobs, know about the companies you want to work for. And know how to market your skills to them.

Prepare for competition. In a battered job market, employers have the upper hand. Lots of qualified people are going for fewer jobs, so consider what an employer wants to see. Think like the employer and then evaluate yourself, your resume, your approach.

Work for that job. Finding a job is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have. Be willing to do different kind of work than you believe would be ideal, or to work in a different industry than you had originally planned on. Consider a lower starting salary than you had hoped for, or even accept a part-time job rather than a full-time one.

Be optimistic and persistent. Employers still respond to job seekers who make the extra effort to write follow-up thank you notes, and continue to reconfirm interest. Be polite and sincere, even if there is nothing available right now. Tomorrow could bring anything.

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