For students looking for a job after graduation, Thursday’s Career Fair offers one of the best opportunities to make contact with several employers in one afternoon. But some students might not even bother going to the Career Fair, focusing their efforts on pursuing graduate school rather than taking on the unwelcoming job market.Recent reports indicate companies are not exercising their hiring function as enthusiastically as they once did. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report released earlier this week stated that employers cut 20,000 jobs in January, and other statistics showed that the number of long-term unemployed workers is at its highest rate since the government started keeping track in 1948.Peter Giulioni, executive director of USC Marshall Keenan MBA Career Resource Center, confirmed that he’s seen a slow down in recruiting.“We’ve experienced a pullback by our employers,” he said.Students have also noticed the trend.“I know the economy is recovering,” said Grace Kwok, a junior majoring in accounting, “but the job market is pretty saturated right now.”Though she had initially hoped to enter the job market as an accountant next year, she said she is strongly considering applying to the Leventhal School of Accounting for graduate school instead.Perlita Carillo, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention, has already decided to get a master’s in public health at the USC Keck School of Medicine.Both said they are uncertain about attending the fair.“A lot of people tell me it’s mostly geared towards business majors, so I don’t know if it will be much help,” Kwok said. “I’ve found ConnectSC more useful than the fair.”But Giulioni said it’s important for students to attend the fair to scout out opportunities.“Every opportunity to encounter the hire function of companies should be utilized,” he said.Though opportunities are disappearing in a variety of industries, the BLS report showed an increase in jobs in manufacturing, retail and health care, along with a significant increase in temporary-staffing jobs, which economists often point to as a predictor of a future increase in long-term jobs.Courtney Brunious, a second-year graduate student studying business, said temporary employment is much more readily available than permanent employment.“A lot of offers aren’t really for full-time positions, mostly internships that may turn into full-time positions,” he said.As a result, career advisors counsel students to employ a number of strategies in job hunting.“Cast a broader net in terms of the jobs [you] are pursuing … you can’t approach the job market with too much of a level of specificity,” Giulioni said.Tim Burgess, director of Career Development for the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, agreed.“Knowing what your transferable skills are is very important,” he said.Both Burgess and Giulioni said that the number of students asking them for advice about graduate school seems to have increased as a result of the economic climate. Still, Giulioni emphasized that graduate school should not be seen simply as an escape from a challenging job market.“Think about the opportunity that will give you the highest return on investment in terms of time, talent and treasure,” Giulioni said.Burgess offered one last piece of advice in keeping with the age of social networking.“You have to go beyond replying to job postings,” he said. “You have to develop a strong LinkedIn profile.”Brunious echoed this thought.“It’s all about networking — creating that relationship that allows you to get that opportunity,” she said.