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College grads confront tough entry-level job market

Ashley Davidson, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in finance from Texas Christian University last weekend, had a relatively worry-free spring compared with a lot of her friends.

Davidson, 21, sealed a deal in November to work as a middle school math teacher in Houston. So while many fellow graduates are still hunting for jobs, she's getting ready to move June 4.

"I started early," said Davidson, who hails from Newark, 25 miles northwest of Fort Worth. "I pretty much knew what I had to do."

Unfortunately, for many new grads, the job market hasn't been as hospitable in this downturn. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a respected U.S. outplacement firm, calls this "the worst entry-level job market since the dot.com bust."

"Hiring has slowed significantly," CEO John Challenger said in a recent report. "Companies that are adding workers can be highly selective as the pool of applicants continues to grow."

He said spring graduates will vie for jobs not only with classmates but also with young workers, retirees who need to go back to work and even stay-at-home moms returning to the workplace.

But the situation isn't "hopeless."

"The job search may take longer, but those who take an aggressive approach to networking and cast a wide net to include more industries and geographic regions should still be successful," he said. "It may be necessary to lower one's salary expectations or possibly accept an undesirable position. However, it is important to remember that this is your first job and does not define the rest of your career path."

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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