TAMPA, Fla. - University of South Florida student Robert Hendler is having a hard time finding a part-time job to help pay for his books, let alone an actual career post-graduation.
"I definitely need a job," Hendler said. "I don't have a job. I don't have anything really set up down here."
It's a scary reality for thousands of college students gearing up to graduate this week.
A new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) says employers expect their college hiring levels to remain flat. Employers taking part in NACE's Job Outlook Spring Update survey say they will hire 2.1 percent more new college grads from the Class of 2013 than they hired from the Class of 2012, but that's down from the 13 percent increase they projected in the fall of 2012.
Local job experts say new grads need to learn how to market themselves.
"Be very confident. Be clear, precise, and accurate with the things you're speaking about during the interview," said Andrew Rankin with Kavaliro Staffing.
Rankin said new grads also need to manage their expectations and be willing to start at the bottom.
"Sometimes you're just going to have to get your foot in the door with an entry level position you may not want, but at the end will get you toward where you want to be," said Rankin.
Competition can be tight for those entry level spots, USF career counselor Diane Russell says that means getting out from behind the computer and out into the community.
"The biggest way to find out about employment is basically networking," Russell said.
Some of the best options may be internships, volunteering in the field you want to pursue, or career fairs.
A school career fair is where USF senior Matthew Laduca scored his job. Laduca will be graduating Friday with an entry-level job at GM.
"I'm excited. I can't wait. It's going to be fun," Laduca said.