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Congratulations, now get a job! Thirteen ways college grads can jump-start their careers by making great connections

Busting into the job market for the first time is a huge challenge for college grads, and today’s high unemployment is certainly not making it any easier. The best way to overcome these challenges, says Maribeth Kuzmeski, is to focus on networking and making great connections with the people who can put you (and your résumé) right in front of the hiring decision makers at your dream job.

Once the tassels are turned, the graduation parties end, and the finality of your college years sets in, there’s little time to waste in taking your first official step into real-world adulthood. For many college grads, that means pounding the pavement to get that first “real” job, at a time when many seasoned professionals are also amongst the job-seeking ranks.

There’s good news and bad news for recent college grads looking for work, says Maribeth Kuzmeski. The good news: They’re more adept than their older counterparts at using the Internet and social media to find job opportunities. The bad news: They lack the networking and communication skills that older professionals have honed over the years.

“Thankfully, networking is a skill that can be mastered with the right motivation,” says Kuzmeski, author of The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life. “The first step: If you’re a recent college grad, start thinking of yourself as CEO of Me, Myself, and I, Inc. You need to be doing everything you can to get the word out about your brand. That means networking.

“Great networkers are capable of leaving something behind with everyone they encounter—a thought, a memory, or a connection. This is exactly what you need to do if you are in the job market. You need to make strong connections, become a relationship builder. You want to be the first person who comes to mind when someone in your network hears about a great job opening.”

Kuzmeski is an expert at helping businesses and individuals create strong business relationships that will help them get ahead, regardless of their profession. Below, she offers advice for how you can network your way to a great new job right out of college:

  1. Rejuvenate your résumé. Use your résumé to showcase how great you are. Think of it this way: If you are the CEO of Me, Myself, and I, Inc., you will need some marketing materials to promote your brand. Your résumé and cover letter will serve as those marketing materials.

    “Grab the attention of employers by upping the impact of your résumé,” says Kuzmeski. “That might mean bucking the traditional résumé format to include eye-catching (but informative) headlines. Don’t panic if you don’t have any significant job experience to include. Your college years probably yielded more valuable experience than you think. For example, be sure to include information about your internships, relevant class assignments, club leadership positions, etc. Just make sure your résumé is something an employer would want to read.”
  2. Build your online résumé using LinkedIn. According to’s 2010 Social Recruiting Survey, 83 percent of employers plan to use social networks to recruit this year. If you aren’t already on business-focused social media sites like LinkedIn, take the time to set up a profile. In fact, LinkedIn is especially important because it is the most commonly viewed source for job seekers and employers. Setting up a profile is simple: Just go to, add your picture and a summary of your past job responsibilities, and state what you’re looking for. “Again, if you haven’t had a ‘real’ job yet, it is A-OK to include your internship or volunteer experiences and past responsibilities,” notes Kuzmeski. “As a LinkedIn member, you can also join groups, review books, and proactively connect with potential employers.”
  3. Get face-to-face with potential employers! Find a way to get in front of your potential employers. These days, it is much harder to show potential employers what you are all about and to forge a connection with them because so much of the prehiring process is done online and through e-mail. That is why it is essential that you find a way to communicate with them face-to-face. Dropping off a follow-up note or a résumé is a great opportunity for getting some face time with a potential employer. Another great face-to-face opportunity comes after the interview. To show you paid close attention to everything your interviewer said, stop by her office with an article that you think would be of interest to her or a small gift (e.g., a box of candy) based on some key piece of information—what Kuzmeski calls the “remarkable”—you found out about the interviewer during the interview.

    “Once you are face-to-face, in an interview, or otherwise, focus on having eye contact throughout,” says Kuzmeski. “Lean in, show her you are interested in everything she says, and think before you answer any question. Thoughtful deliberation can be difficult if you’re nervous, but it is critical in answering your potential employer’s questions to the best of your ability. Establishing this face time is sure to set you apart from your job market competition.”
  4. Make an impact by using video. If you really want to capture the attention of a potential employer, record a quick video. Use it to get an interview or as a follow-up after an interview. Here’s how it works: Instead of just e-mailing a résumé or a post-interview thank-you note, include a link to a video of you. Carefully script your response, and record the quick message using a Flip video camera or even a Webcam. Post it on YouTube or some other service, and send a link for the video to your potential employer.

    Here are some helpful scripting tips for getting the interview:
    • The video should be no longer than one or two minutes.
    • Introduce yourself.
    • Identify the job you would like to be interviewed for.
    • Tell them three things about your background that may make them interested in interviewing you.
    • Thank them for watching the video, and ask them for the interview!
    “Here’s my caveat,” says Kuzmeski. “Using a video is not an opportunity to show how funny you are. You absolutely have to be professional. And be mindful of the setting. Not only should you look professional, but so should the room where you are filming the video. In other words, don’t film it with your messy bedroom visible in the background. You want the recipient to focus on you and what you’re saying—not on your dirty laundry!”
  5. Become a contrarian networker. The difficult first lesson that many college grads must learn about networking is that it is not the equivalent of asking, “Will you hire me?” The goal of effective networking is, instead, to build a mutually beneficial relationship with someone who may never even be able to give you a job, but who might know someone who can.

    “It’s what I call contrarian networking,” says Kuzmeski. “Before you start networking, create a game plan. First, think about which contacts are the most important to you and which are the closest to you. Remember, these will not necessarily be the people you think might be able to give you a job on the spot. Of those contacts, consider who the best connectors are. Who knows the people you want to know? By connecting with other great connectors, you are able to widen your reach. You expand your opportunities.”
  6. Network to the people you know. Sometimes the most obvious connections are the ones most easily ignored. When you are building your network or considering who might be able to help you in your first big job search push, don’t forget about the fruit closest to the ground.

    “Again, think about the people close to you who might have huge networks of their own,” says Kuzmeski. “For example, maybe your mom is or used to be a teacher. She’s had contact with tons of parents over the years who just might be working at a company that could hire you. Or maybe your cousin has a job in a completely different field, but he has a huge network of friends on Facebook. You never know how a great opportunity will present itself. Don’t count anyone out of your networking efforts, especially those who are the closest to you and therefore the most willing to help.”
  7. Let them do the talking. (You ask the questions!) When you’re first starting out, networking can be a sweaty-palm-inducing, nerve-racking experience. Be careful not to allow your nerves to lead to nervous chatter. There’s nothing worse than coming away from a great networking opportunity realizing that you can’t remember a single person’s name or a single helpful thing that was said. Always be prepared to listen, and arm yourself with a (mental) list of questions to help you get conversations going.

    Here are a few great icebreakers:
    • How did you get started in this industry?
    • Where did you grow up? Do you still have family there?
    • How are your kids? What are they up to?
    • I’ve been wanting to ask this of someone with more experience than me. What do you think about…? (Complete this question with something from current events, your town or city’s local news, or a recent event in your industry. Remember, it is always a good idea to avoid topics that can lead to contentious conversations such as religion, politics, etc.)

      Once the conversation is flowing freely, then you can move on to more in-depth business questions:
    • What’s the best thing that has happened to your business this year?
    • What’s one thing you’ve done that has really changed your career?
    • What will you never do again in business?
    • What’s your biggest challenge?
    • What makes a good client for you?
    • What do you find is the most effective way to keep a client happy?

      “After he answers you, it’s always a good idea to follow up with a secondary question that encourages him to tell you more,” Kuzmeski adds. “The more he talks and you listen, the more he will like you because you are showing genuine interest in him. Pretty soon, he will be asking you questions, and a valuable business connection will have been made!”
  8. Be prepared to pitch yourself in 15 seconds. You’re probably entering the job market eager to share your qualifications, experiences, and passion for your new career. But the hard reality for many college grads is that no one (except for your mom!) wants to hear that much about your accomplishments. Kuzmeski says that when you are networking and getting the word out about yourself, you should resist the urge to give a 10-minute introduction about yourself. Instead, prepare a short, 15-second elevator pitch that hits on your high points and top skills. Think about what’s unique about what you have done and what will help you stand out from a crowd of other job seekers.

    “The key to an effective pitch is keeping it short, while still including your biggest wins,” Kuzmeski explains. “For example, I’ve had great success with the following pitch about myself: ‘Hi! My name is Maribeth Kuzmeski. I own a marketing consulting firm, Red Zone Marketing, which employs six people who are all focused on helping companies find more business. I’ve worked with an NBA basketball team, with U.S. senators, financial advisors, and mutual fund companies. I’ve even closed a sale while upside down in an aerobatic biplane at 7,000 feet above ground.’ I find that it is hard for most people to walk away without asking me about that last part or which NBA team or U.S. senators I’ve worked with. Be creative, and think about how you can frame your accomplishments in a way that gets people’s attention.”
  9. Get involved in organizations that are connected to your profession. Job fairs can be great ways to get in front of potential employers, but you might not want to focus only on companies you know are hiring. In order to meet people within your industry who might have the potential to hire you, attend trade shows and seminars, and join organizations or associations connected to the profession you’d like to enter.

    “These events and organizations provide great opportunities to help you get your name out,” says Kuzmeski. “Again, you might not find someone who is going to hire you on the spot, but you will have the chance to meet people who have the potential to hire you in the future. Take hard copies of your résumé to these events. The more people within your industry or profession who know you, the better.”
  10. Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to give back, but it is also a great way to sneak in some networking. For example, if you want a job in marketing, volunteer to work with the PR director at a nonprofit, or if you are an aspiring accountant, volunteer your financial expertise. Not only will volunteering put you in close contact with established professionals who can teach you about your field, but by taking the initiative to get work experience via volunteering, you show potential employers that you’re a hard worker who wants to get started right away.

    “There are usually many hands that go into keeping a nonprofit running,” says Kuzmeski. “Volunteering provides you the opportunity to meet them. And remember, you don’t necessarily have to be doing anything that is connected to your profession. Simply volunteering at a place with a cause you are passionate about will provide you the chance to get in front of a lot of great connectors that you might not have met otherwise.”
  11. Be a mover and a shaker. The next time you attend a networking event or even just a party, force yourself to get outside your comfort zone. Don’t just hang out with the people you already know. Make it a point to introduce yourself to new people, and find out as much as you can about them. The more you move around from group to group, the more connections you will be able to make. “It’s all about expanding your opportunities,” says Kuzmeski. “If you are at a party or event with friends, sure, you might have a great time spending the entire evening with them, but you won’t have networked to the best of your ability. By getting outside of your normal fishbowl, you can expand your connections.”
  12. Always be networking. You don’t have to be at an event or party or working your social networks to build your connections. “We all run into people everywhere in our day-to-day lives, but very few of us capitalize on all those great connections,” says Kuzmeski. “For example, next time you’re on an airplane, instead of listening to your iPod, playing on your iPad, or reading the whole time, get to know the person next to you. Network at social gatherings, or strike up a conversation with the person behind you in line at the grocery store.

    “Remember, always be prepared to sell yourself. Provide what I call a simple, repeatable statement of value. That’s something you can say to someone that you know will trigger her interest and that will be easy for her to repeat to others. By creating a statement like this, those you connect with can easily pass along information about you. They might say, ‘I just met this recent college grad named Mike on a plane. He said he programmed and sold two iPhone apps while he was in college. Here’s his résumé.’ Or, ‘I met this promising young teacher named Sarah at my church. She spent two semesters teaching English at a school in Costa Rica…’ You get the picture. When you start to think about all the networking possibilities that are open to you, it’s easy to see that your opportunities are endless.”
  13. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. While communicating electronically is often the method of choice for young people, in your job search and networking efforts there will be times when that simply isn’t appropriate. “Admittedly, this can be a tough call to make, even for seasoned professionals,” says Kuzmeski. “My rule of thumb is to match whatever method of communication your potential connection is using. If a business-owner friend of your dad’s gives you a call to discuss possible opportunities with his company, call him back. Don’t e-mail, even if he left you his e-mail address in the voice-mail message. And when you do start going on interviews, ask your interviewers if it is okay to give them a call if you have any questions after the interview.”

For more information, please visit

Teach your kids about interest rates

—Jason Alderman
One of the most valuable financial lessons you can share with your kids before they leave the nest is to explain what interest rates are and how they work. The important financial transactions they’ll conduct as adults will likely be affected in some way by interest rates, whether as a lender or a borrower.

Here’s some background information to help guide those conversations:

  • Interest rates for lenders. Anyone who has a savings account or owns government or business bonds is, in effect, lending money to those institutions and earning interest on the loan. Unless you buy tax-free municipal bonds, however, this interest income is probably taxable, so shop around for favorable rates to maximize your earnings and help offset inflation. Compare bank CD, savings, and checking account interest rates at; to find credit unions for which you’re eligible, visit
  • Interest rates for borrowers. Interest rates have even more impact on you as a borrower, especially for large purchases. For example: Most mortgages are for 15 to 30 years, so reducing the interest rate by a point or two could save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. And credit card rates may vary by 10 points or more, depending on your credit rating.

    Most borrower interest rates are expressed in terms of annual percentage rate (APR). With credit cards, the issuer may charge a fixed APR or change it as bank interest rates vary (“variable rate”). Each billing period, the company charges a fraction of the annual rate, called the “periodic rate,” on outstanding balances. With mortgages, the APR also factors in points, origination fees, mortgage insurance premiums, and other fees.

Interest rates may also depend on:

  • Whether the loan is “secured” (secured by collateral such as a house or car) or “unsecured” (not tied to collateral—like credit cards—so the lender relies on your promise to pay it back). Because they’re riskier for the lender, unsecured loans typically have higher interest rates.
  • Credit score. People with higher credit scores are deemed less risky and therefore get much more favorable rates.
  • Term length. Long-term loan rates are usually higher than short-term rates because the longer the loan, the greater the risk to the lender that you might default.
  • Fixed vs. adjustable. Home mortgage interest rates are either fixed for the life of the loan or adjustable at predetermined intervals for part or all of the loan period.
    They’re usually tied to an index such as the 10-Year Treasury Note. When rate indexes are relatively high, many opt for an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), which typically has a lower beginning rate and is therefore more affordable initially. However, when rates climb due to inflation or other factors, monthly ARM payments can rise sharply, which is why many people prefer the more dependable, fixed rate.

Bottom line: Many factors in setting interest rates are beyond our individual control; however, teach your kids that they can control their own credit score, which can have a tremendous impact—good or bad—on interest rates.

Many good resources teach how to protect—or repair—your credit score, including’s credit education center ( and What’s My Score (, a financial literacy program run by Visa, Inc.


The Teen Advisory Group (TAG) will meet at the Placitas Community Library June 11 at 1:30 p.m. We still have funds to buy books, films, music, etc. and need your ideas. We will also have available for check out many new items recommended at the last meeting. Anyone in middle or high school is encouraged to attend. Snacks will be served and a 1950s horror movie will be shown at 2:30 p.m. All ages are welcome at the movie. Call the library for the title.

Chess, anyone?

Aaron Koslow, the 16th ranked teen chess player in New Mexico, is starting a chess club in conjunction with the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) at the Placitas Community Library on the first Saturdays of June, July, and August. Anyone over 10 who wants to learn the game, improve their game, or match wits with other players is invited to join us June 4 at 1 p.m. in the Collin Meeting Room. If you have a portable chess set, please bring it.

Placitas Community Library kids corner

There are many exciting and interesting opportunities in May for your children at the Placitas Community Library.

On Saturday, May 14, we will be celebrating our birthday bash and kicking off summer reading events. The activities for children will be held between 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m., beginning with Frank the Amazing Magician at 10 a.m. and continuing with a children’s story hour at 10:30 a.m., with stories about wolves read by Linda Spaulding. The Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary will present a program for children at 11:00 a.m., and Placitas’ own juggling master Chris Enright will be on hand most of the day, juggling and unicycling about.

Frank and Chris are donating their performances to the library, and we wish to thank them very much.

Throughout the day, you will be able to register your children for the Summer Reading Challenge. At the end of the summer program, all children who participate in the challenge will receive a bag of prizes and a book.

You will also find out more about three wonderful opportunities for your children: Story Time Yoga, the Summer Reading Program, and the Summer Arts Program. Here is a preview:

  • Story Time Yoga is presented free of charge by Deborah Gullo of Yoga Crossroads every Tuesday afternoon in June and July from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Sign up at the birthday bash.
  • The Summer Reading Program is presented by the volunteers on the Children’s Services Committee and is supported by three community groups: the Jardineros de Placitas, the Placitas Artist Series Community Outreach Program, and the New Mexico Humanities Council. The program will be held every Thursday morning in June and July from 10:00-11:30 a.m. The theme is “One World, Many Stories” and will take children on a reading tour to many exciting places, including the Serengeti Plain and Nigeria in Africa, the Tower of London, China, the rain forests, and Australia. Children will see and hear stories presented in many imaginative and creative ways, using music, flags, exotic animals, puppets, and much more! Pick up a detailed flyer at the birthday bash.
  • The Summer Arts Program is presented by the Creative Spirits of Placitas, a talented group of local artists, on three Saturday mornings from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. On June 18, Anna Goodridge, fine arts painter, will present a program on Mexican paper cutting. On July 23, author Lisa Goldman will read her new book, The Proud Little Burro, accompanied by illustrator Patrice Schooley, local artist Sonya Coppo, and Lisa’s own donkey, “Little Burrito.” Have your photo taken with “Burrito.” Finally, on August 27, local jewelry design artist Geri Verble will talk about the history of African beads and help children create an African bead and leather necklace. Pick up a flyer for these special events at the birthday bash as well. Flyers are also available on our Web site.

All of these programs are presented free of charge.

For more information, call (505) 867-3355, or visit

Upcoming Children’s Programs

  • May 6: Boy Scout Meeting, 4:30 p.m.
  • May 10: Bilingual Story Hour, 3 p.m.
  • May 12: Pre-K Story Hour, 10 a.m.  
  • May 14: PCL Birthday Bash and Registration for the Summer Reading Challenge, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Frank the Amazing Magician, 10 a.m.; Wolf Stories with Linda Spaulding, 10:30 a.m.; Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary Presentation for Children with a Wolf Ambassador, 11 a.m.
  • May 17: Kids’ Book Club, 3 p.m. (Book selection: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH)
  • May 20: Boy Scout Meeting, 4:30 p.m.
  • May 26: Pre-K Story Hour, 10 a.m.

Keep your children entertained this summer

The Placitas Community Library has added extra programs for the summer to educate as well as entertain your children. All of them are free of charge! You may download flyers from our Web site (, or call (505) 867-3355 for more information.   

Here is our June schedule:

  • Summer Reading Program: Every Thursday morning, from 10-11:30 a.m. The theme of our program is “One World, Many Stories” and is sponsored by the Jardineros de Placitas.
    • June 2: African Adventure in Ghana
    • June 9: Nigerian drumming and storytelling group, Agalu. This program is sponsored by the Placitas Artist Series Community Outreach Program.
    • June 16: Flags and Maps from Around the World
    • June 23: Ravens at the Tower of London with “Poe,” the special raven from New Mexico Wildlife.
    • June 30: Tales from China, presented by guest storyteller, Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley.
  • Summer Reading Challenge: Children are encouraged to read this summer as part of our summer reading challenge program and help the library reach their goal of reading 1,000+ books. Last year, the children read over 1,400 books. Register your child at the library, and he/she will receive free books and prizes for participating. There is also an adult reading challenge. Read with your child!
  • Summer Arts Program: Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Anna Goodridge, a member of the Creative Spirits of Placitas, who is sponsoring this program, will teach children the art of Mexican paper cutting—“Papel Cortado.”
  • Yoga Story Time: Every Tuesday afternoon in June from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Deborah Gullo of Yoga Crossroads is presenting this program free of charge. You must register your child at the library, and you may also participate.
  • Musical Story Time: Saturdays, June 11 and 25, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. This program is presented by Kat Wilson of Destination Imagination, also free of charge. Kat uses her vocal talents, along with a variety of musical instruments, to entertain and inspire children to read. On June 11, local young musician Camilia Ceniceros will join Kat for two songs.

There will more special programs in July. 

Hope to see you at the Placitas Community Library this summer!







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