Certainly in 2012, you want to be up to date on using social media to network, but don’t forget about the tried-and-true ways of developing—and keeping—helpful contacts.

If you want someone to hire you, that someone has to know who you are. Sounds obvious, right? Then why do you keep posting resume after resume to mammoth job sites, hoping a recruiter will simply gravitate to your name based on your education and experience? Wait, you’re not the only one with great academic credentials and a record of decent part-time jobs? Well, what do you do now? You get out there, that’s what. You get off the couch and hit the street. All the job advice in the world can be trumped with one simple phrase: It’s who you know. Find the right person, and your path to Job No. 1 just became a lot shorter.

Don’t overthink it. Begin with the people you know.

“Most people are hesitant to use the network that they have,” says Christine Edick, a career coach based in Orange, Calif.

In fact, as mentioned earlier, taking advantage of your college connection is just about the smartest thing you can do before graduation, but even if you’ve put off the job search until you donned the cap and gown, it’s not too late to use one of the best resources available.

“A career center is always a great place to start,” says Holly Paul, national recruiting leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Most universities have career development centers, where the staff’s sole mission is to help students and alumni find the path they want to take.

You also can get help finding a job through your school’s alumni network.

“Use those contacts that have willingly volunteered to help students in their job search,” says Paul. Have a gameplan of what you want to do before you go calling everyone in the directory, though. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

The value of career centers has never been more critical since the job market bottomed out in 2008, leaving upcoming or new graduates panicked about their futures. Significant developments were made across the nation to counter the failing market and make their students employable once again.

“The career center’s purpose is multifaceted at DePaul,” says Amanda Powers Snowden, associate director of communications for DePaul University’s center in Chicago. “We can help students match their career interests with DePaul’s majors, minors, activities and organizations offered. We also explore the students’ career options by building experience, through internships and co-ops, to seek future employment.”

At the University of Missouri, the career center’s services are decentralized, according to Laura Pieter, career services assistant for the school, in Columbia, Mo. “We have nine different offices that focus on their respective schools and the majors offered in each,” Pieter says. “The purpose of each office is to connect employers to students, present career hosting advice, provide on-campus interviews and offer professional development programs to prepare students for the real world.”

For most career centers, the help doesn’t end at graduation. And there’s no cookie-cutter approach to finding their students and alums work. In fact, most career centers continually shift their strategies to serve student and alumni needs.

The chances of finding employment after graduation are not only improved by visiting university career centers, there are also myriad other services that can help build your rapport with future employers.

“I see students want to prepare themselves the best they can, and a lot of times they already possess employable characteristics,” says Suzanne Helbig, assistant director at the University of California at Berkeley’s career center. “They just need a polishing of their resume and the experience to learn how to stand out to employers.”

Buy "Calling All Grads" Kindle eBook. Job tips for college gradsThis article was excerpted from the new eBook “Calling All Grads! Turn a Degree into a Job,” edited by careers writer and editor Marco Buscaglia and published by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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