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Graduating Students Face Double Challenge in Difficult Economic Times


BMO offers tips to help post-secondary grads get started on a solid financial and career track

TORONTO, With the unemployment rate expected to average 8.5 per cent in 2009, graduating students will need to be focused and disciplined to ensure they start on a solid financial and career path.

“This year’s crop of graduating students face the burden of paying down outstanding student loans and looking to land a full-time job,” said Sid Chopra, Vice-President, Every Day Banking, BMO Financial Group. “We invite graduates to come talk to us to help them make sense of their finances and get started on the right track; offering students free banking one year after they graduate is just one way we can help.”

According to BMO Economics:

* Youth employment (age 15-24) is already down 5.6% in the past year to April, compared with a lesser 0.7% decline for older workers (age +25)
* Job prospects will be particularly bleak in construction, manufacturing (especially the auto industry), resources (outside of gold), restaurants and tourism
* Who’s hiring – Government, health care, social assistance, and downscale eateries

“Suffice it to say this won’t be a great year for anyone to find a job, with the unemployment rate expected to reach its highest average annual rate in 12 years,” said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. “However, that is still well below the double-digit peaks reached in the last two recessions,” he noted.

To help students manage their debt and day-to-day expenses, BMO offers the following tips:

Start paying off student loans, credit cards
Map out your debt from loans and credit card balances. Whenever possible pay your balance in full each month. If you cannot pay the full amount, try to pay more than the minimum balance due. Remember, the faster you pay off the balance, the less interest you will pay. Higher interest credit card should be transferred to a credit card with a lower interest rate. Pay off your most expensive debt first. This is the debt that charges the highest interest rate, not the debt with the highest balance.

Find Flexibility
BMO’s student line of credit repayment plans are very flexible. For the first year after graduation, new grads are able to continue paying interest only as a monthly payment. This gives you the cushion to find employment and get some security before you are required to start paying some principal down. The repayment schedule is very affordable starting at 1 per cent of the principal and escalating slowly every year onward. You can pay down your loan as quickly as you want and there are no penalties for additional payments.

Put together a realistic budget and stick to it
Calculate income (summer job, part-time job, parental support, savings, etc.) against fixed expenses such as groceries, phone, internet, tv, transportation, entertainment, credit card payments, loan payments and discretionary spending money.

Save wherever you can
Look for promotions, discounts and anything else you can find. BMO is the only bank that offers students free banking one year after they graduate. Avoid unnecessary banking expenses that can add up over time. Debit card purchases and transactions made from other-bank ABMs can be costly if they are not included in your bank plan.

Landing a Job

“The key to successful job hunting, especially in a softening economy, is knowing how to market yourself,” advised Karen Hartley, Senior Vice-President, Recruitment and Intake, BMO Financial Group. “This economic crisis has hit students just as hard as it has their parents. In today’s environment, competition is going to be fierce for any job, regardless of whether it’s an entry-level position or a big step up the corporate ladder so you really have to create a buzz about yourself.”

To help students stand out amongst the crowd of job-seekers, BMO offers the following tips, also available on youtube.

Get help with your resume. Most schools have a career services office that will help you with your resume and interview skills. Focus on what skills you have obtained from your previous jobs and volunteer experience.

Network. Think of the people you know – relatives, friends, professors, and others. Make a concerted effort to meet with people, and use these conversations to ask their advice and to make them aware of your job search, your work interests, and your skills.

Take full advantage of the Internet. The internet is your friend. With recruitment and advertising dollars becoming tight, especially in a slow economy, the Internet is fast becoming become a focal point for recruitment and hiring. Job boards should always be one of the first sites you visit when you start your job search.

Be enthusiastic. Throughout your job search you will speak with many people at different levels. Take every opportunity to show the company that you have the skills, knowledge and attitude that would help you make an immediate and meaningful contribution to the team.

Highlight related work experience. Focus on the relevant skills that you have gained through past work or volunteer experience. Consider volunteering in related jobs to gain experience. Be prepared to discuss how they apply to the position you are applying for.


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