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(ARA) – As the recession continues to take its toll, college grads have to work harder to stand out. Businesses expect to hire 22 percent fewer recent grads in 2009, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Competition for available jobs is fierce, even among candidates armed with a college degree.

If you’re one of the millions of graduates looking for a job this year, there are some basic things you can do to stay ahead of the competition.

Use technology to stay ahead of the game
Windows-powered PCs can help you stay ahead of the competition when it comes to college funding, admissions and job opportunities.

Use your networking skills
You probably already know that social networking sites are a great way to meet new people, but they can also help you stay ahead academically and begin job networking before you graduate.
Be sure to use a network that matches your interest and objectives — and there will probably be more than one that fits your needs. Networking and resume sites that allow you to post virtual resumes are a great way to get your information in front of a large group of potential employers.

Create a calendar
If you’re already having nightmares about oversleeping on the day of the big exam or forgetting an internship interview with a Fortune 500 company, it’s time to create an online calendar. An online calendar allows you to share access with other important people in your lives, so you can remember that important interview as quickly as you remember to call Grandma on her birthday.

Find a job that relates to your major or your interests
Working and going to school isn’t easy, and you’ll be even less inclined to enjoy your job if it bores you. While you may not find your dream job right now, any opportunity to see if you enjoy working in your ideal industry is a good learning experience.

Look for internships
Now is a prime opportunity to get experience that can build into a full-time job after graduation, and it’s also the one time in your life when you can live very cheaply. Internships don’t often pay well or anything at all, but they often count for course credit and always build your résumé, so take advantage of them while you can.

Start job hunting a semester (or more) before graduation
Every May, the job market is flooded with new graduates ready and eager to find work. If you start sending out résumés, going on interviews and networking ahead of your classmates, you can have a job lined up before you even get your diploma. You can really enjoy walking across that stage even more when you’ve already accepted an offer.

Remember that you’re a working student
Although a lot changes from high school to college, some things stay the same, namely, the need to remain focused on school and taking the job seriously. Don’t forget to study for an exam because of work. (And don’t forget to show up for work because you were having too much fun.)

Don’t forget to have fun
No matter how hard you work, this summer is still sure to have some special events and fun moments. Be sure to record them and share them with friends. Start with a good digital camera — prices have dropped in recent years, making them affordable for just about everyone. Look for features like red-eye reduction and the number of mega-pixels.

Don’t fall into the trap of leaving photos on your camera. Upload your images with online photo-sharing software or Web sites. Services like Windows Live Photo Gallery make it easy to edit, store and share photos for free. Consider creating photo books of your summer’s highlight images to share with friends.

For more creative ways to de-stress this summer, visit .

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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