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, May 8 /CNW/ - 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 faces 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 <a href="">youtube</a>

    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.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Kasia Lech, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996; Laurie Grant, Vancouver,, (604) 665-7596; Lucie Gosselin, Montreal,, (514) 877-1101

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