Once upon a time, having a college degree practically guaranteed you a decent job. Recruiters went to college campuses to woo you and convince you to come work for them. Seniors often had job offers as early as the October before graduation.

Generation Y has it a bit different.

Now, with unemployment steadily rising, new graduates are facing one of the tightest job markets in years.

If you’re about to don your cap and gown, you also better bust out your comfy shoes. You might have to pound the pavement to find a good job in this down market.

With so much uncertainty in the economy, many employers are choosing to hold off on hiring decisions until closer to the spring. Companies just don’t know if they will be able to add more workers or if they may have to look at layoffs just to stay afloat.

According to an October 2008 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers are only planning to hire a meager 1.3% more graduates in 2009 than in 2008. (In August 2008, the association projected that number would be 6%, but re-polled employers in light of the unpredictable financial markets.)

With more than 1.5 million new graduates looking for jobs in the spring, competition is going to be fierce and it will definitely be a hirers' job market.

So, what can you do if you are about to come out of college? Well, you still have a number of options. If you are looking for a private sector job, start now. Start yesterday. Attend career fairs, sign up for job search websites and start sending out resumes and cover letters. There are places you can find a job right now, but you might have to broaden your search.

Rather than limit yourself to a specific job, look for positions where your course work and skill set can be useful. If you studied business, for example, don’t just confine your job search to corporate America. It might be easier to find a position in a field like health care administration, which is experiencing growth. Keep an open mind when looking for a job and take the opportunity to try something different until you can get the career you want on track.

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