While the national unemployment rate hovers at 9.2 percent, college graduates embarking on that first coveted job search have some good news – unemployment for this sector is much lower (4.2%). The bad news – this is double to where it stood just before the recession. College grads, like the majority of the unemployed labor force, need to develop a targeted job search strategy. And that means doing your homework.While college grads have the education that a job requires, they lack the all important on-the-job experience. If you have a degree in a chosen field, it’s best to research what other criteria, other than schooling, is required.

All fields have their own requirements and understanding these will better help in preparing what’s needed as an applicant – from a resume and cover letter, to writing sample and portfolio, if necessary. A strong resumethat you have on-hand at a moment’s notice is critical. For entry-level job seekers, experts recommend a functional resume. Functional resumes focus on skills and experience first. It de-emphasizes dates; employment history is secondary, and is listed under the details of your skills. As a college grad, chances are you’re all too familiar with social networking. Use sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to your advantage.

Many companies now use these networks to recruit, and connecting with prospective employers via social networks showcases your savvy. Look at companies that are of interest and research job openings, culture and other information. Be mindful. Many companies now gauge the aptitude of prospective employees not only by their professional and educational experience, but their online presence. What you say and how you present yourself online will translate into real-world perception. You cannot have too many people in your corner when you are looking to secure a job, and networking plays a critical role in the process. Look to friends, family, neighbors, alumni, even people you meet at grocery stores as having potential to generate job openings. Go to business association events and gatherings. Here people with similar goals gather and it can be a good way to begin to connect with professional contacts. Many professionals are members of their local community organizations, whether because of company sponsorships or because of their own personal interests.

Volunteering groups are a good way to connect with people and employers within your community. Persistence pays off. While the summer may have you dreaming about the beach, the job search never takes a vacation. Candidates, who are persistent and set aside scheduled time each week to the job search process, and any of the necessary research or preparation required, are much more successful in closing the gap between times of unemployment to employment success. If you are not registered with use, register today at www.americasjobexchange.com and begin to achieve your career goals.

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