Every spring, Ottawa’s labour market gets flooded with a batch of fresh graduates with hopes of entering the workforce.

“I was relieved to be done school, but at the same time, was really nervous about getting a job,” said Melissa Mair, a recent criminology graduate from the University of Ottawa.

“The reality of job searching hadn’t set in. Graduation is the beginning, not the end.”

Mair isn’t alone in her struggle to find a position that fits both her qualifications and experience level.

“It is an employer’s market and they are being selective,” said Monster Canada spokesman Robert Waghorn. “Over the last year, we have seen an increase in resumés of 30 to 40 per cent.”

To avoid getting lost in a sea of online candidates, University of Ottawa job search specialist Clair Cayen suggests taking advantage of face-to-face networking opportunities.

“By meeting professionals who are already in the field working, graduates not only make connections, but get the opportunity to reflect and stay current with what is happening in their industry,” said Cayen.

The good news is that there are jobs to be had. According to Statistics Canada, youth unemployment dropped in January for the first time since the economic slowdown. And David Rodas-Wright, the co-ordinator of employer relations at the University of Ottawa, says there has been a return of small- and medium-sized businesses interested in recruiting on campus.

“When the economy slowed down, we noticed a drop in employer interest, particularly the IT sector,” said Rodas-Wright, adding that trend began to reverse in January.

Still, new graduates need to be prepared to actively compete. In lieu of a dream job, graduates should seek out related volunteer or part-time experience, Rodas-Wright said.

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