I don’t particularly enjoy reading through statistics—specifically when they relate to unemployment. The number of unemployed (and underemployed) recent college graduates is a trending topic that only builds in attention with the increase in presidential discussions. Some have even ventured to call us a “lost generation,” a group caught in a no-man’s land between school and college-educated employment.
I can only imagine that the group of students that will be graduating with their undergraduate degrees in the next month are a little worried when they see all the reports of unlucky graduates from the outside world. To these, I share these thoughts to keep in mind as you look for your big break.
Be Patient—Jobs generally do not fall into your lap overnight. Perhaps you’ll get lucky, but finding a job requires perseverance and a willingness to wait. Search actively, but don’t feel bad if after three months you haven’t found something. Finding a good fit takes time.
Do Your Research—Talk with your parents and family members about companies that have opportunities within your field. Talk about companies that don’t have opportunities in your field. Read the news and check up on current business happenings through your preferred business news outlet. You should know what is happening in your field, so that you can speak to current happenings with a complete stranger. You never know where you’ll meet a vital connection.
Develop a Plan—Looking for a job isn’t about throwing applications around willy-nilly. Getting to your dream job will require some strategy, so you need to have a general idea of how you plan to get there. Be able to justify your actions (I applied to company X because [some other reason besides “They had an opening”]) and keep yourself organized. I used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my applications, and who I had followed up with and when. A hint: networking should be a huge part of your strategy.
Don’t Jump the Gun—Loans are a horrible anvil hanging over your head. However, if you don’t absolutely have to take the first thing that comes your way, don’t feel pressured to. Finding a good company is important, and you need to do your utmost to make sure that when you say, “Yes” to a company, they will be a good fit for you. Ask questions during the interview, and get a sense of the company culture. If it doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, then don’t take the job.
Consider Potential—It’s natural to limit your search to full-time options within your specified field. However, now more than ever, it is important to think outside the box. Look at the skills that you have. What are your core competencies? How can you offer value to an organization with those two things? If you can do a job, and do it really well, at the very least you have garnered yourself some new skills and a great review from your supervisor. You may even have the opportunity to work on projects that relate to what you want to do—if you speak up about your goals. Also, don’t rule out part-time work or an internship. It may not be ideal in the present, but in the long-term, it could be your opportunity to break into a company and make some extremely valuable connections.
Is this a fool-proof formula for getting a job? No. But I think it’s safe to say that these five points are a great place to start. Don’t undervalue your experience, and always look for ways to build your experience—through jobs or volunteer work. Now may be an intimidating time to enter the work force, but getting a job is not impossible.
About the Author
Patty Marra is a freshly graduated alumna of Marquette University, who is working on answering the question, “…what next?” She is navigating the ever-evolving hiring maze of today’s business environment, and sharing the pieces of knowledge she learns along the way. She loves social media, but appreciates a good face-to-face conversation. Long-term, she is looking to establish a career in marketing project management, and help everyone she can along the way. You can get in touch with her by email, or you can find more of her thoughts via her blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Does this sound familiar? Are you in the same situation? Have you been here before -- what's your advice for Patty? Please comment below.