JOB seekers were urged yesterday to promote themselves like never before in a tough environment where only the brightest and best will succeed.
But the mood at the ninth annual Careers' Fair at the Institute of Technology, Sligo was resolutely upbeat, with college staff encouraging students and graduates not to despair.
"Having a degree is no longer enough. Companies will be looking for the brightest and the best. The responsibility is on the individual to have a flexible attitude and work much harder at marketing and promoting yourself," said IT president, Professor Terri Scott.
Up to 3,000 people thronged the Aula Maxima at the college yesterday, where 63 stands promoted career opportunities.
Significantly, a larger number of older people who have been made redundant or fear for the future of their jobs attended the fair.
Despite the current difficulties, Prof Scott insisted the recession was nothing like what was experienced in the 1980s.
"The term 'emigration' is no longer applicable. It's about mobility. International travel is now affordable and the world has become a smaller place," she said.
She also said the jobs graduates would walk into 10 years from now did not even exist at the moment.
Careers officer Adette Ring said: "Just because there is a downturn in the economy doesn't mean that there is nothing you can do. Our message is: get an education and in four years time be ready to take up jobs, because this will end."
But one former graduate, Lena Rochford (27) from Sligo, said she had been job hunting since last November and was finding conditions tough.
"I am applying everywhere and I am not even getting replies back. It is very disheartening."