Newswise — Despite talk of the U.S. economy heading for recession, the job outlook for college students graduating this spring is expected to be good. However, that doesn't mean landing the first job will be easy—even entry-level positions often call for professional experience. According to Jay Liwanag, a career services director at American University, new grads can decrease the length of their job search by learning how to best promote themselves and capitalize on opportunities.

"For undergraduate students, the key is to continue to open up their network and sell their leadership capabilities via their school, work and extracurricular activities," said Liwanag, also director of corporate relations at AU's Kogod School of Business. "Some people dislike hearing the phrase 'it's all about who you know,' but knowing people and getting in front of people who are hiring managers or know the decision makers will increase the chance of opening doors for new grads."

But what if you don't know anyone who can help you find a job? Simple—go out and meet someone who can.

"A career fair allows students to make those important, face-to-face connections with employers looking for talent and future leaders," said Liwanag.

Students can get the most out of any career fair by taking the following steps in advance:

"¢ Clean up your online profiles. Employers are increasingly using these new media tools to research and sometimes weed out applicants.

"¢ Invest in and wear professional attire for the day of the career fair. You want to look as if you want the job.

"¢ Identify the employers that most interest you. Research the companies and gauge their interests, needs, career opportunities and cultures.

"¢ Ensure that your résumé addresses the needs of your target employers. Have a strong positioning statement and use key words.

"¢ Be prepared for possible on-the-spot interviews. Come ready with your one-minute "elevator speech" identifying your strengths, what you feel you could contribute to the company, and why you are interested in the company.

"¢ Have confidence in yourself. Recruiters are always looking for future employees who would fit their organizations and be strong team players.

Liwanag said that aside from face-to-face networking, students looking for their first job should also take advantage of social networking Web sites.

"More than 70 percent of jobs are not formally advertised in newspapers or online," he said. "Students who utilize all their resources and think creatively to make connections will be better positioned in the job market."

Students looking for jobs in accounting and information technology will have the easiest time finding jobs as demand is high for new talent in those fields. Students looking for marketing jobs will need patience.

"Marketing usually hires on an as-needed basis," said Liwanag. "Students with previous marketing and/or sales experience will have a promising job outlook, but their search may take longer than usual."

American University's Kogod School of Business ( is the school of choice for interdisciplinary business education in the Washington, D.C., area. Established in 1955, Kogod has a highly diverse population that is driven to make a difference in the world. The school works closely with the business community to create market-driven programs that produce outstanding candidates prepared for productive careers in the global business environment.