I worked on college campuses for over a decade before starting my own business, and I've seen a lot of Pomp and Circumstance come and go. I've watched graduates saunter out into great jobs in a strong economy, and I've watched more than a few turn around and go straight back to school in a down economy. But regardless of whether you graduate this year, next year or you graduated five years ago, here are three statements that you can expect to hear--and which I think you should ignore.
1. This is the worse job market in ___ years. You will never get a job. (Assume this is right and don't apply for jobs, you can guarantee you won't get one.)
A CEO I once worked with loved to tell the story of a man who was angry with God because he hadn't won the lottery. He shook his fists and shouted at the sky, "Why haven't I won? I deserve it. I'm a good man, I've worked hard. Why won't you help me?"
The clouds parted, a loud voice spoke. "My son, buy a ticket."
Moral: You have to apply for jobs in order to be in the game.
2. You need a stimulus package to get a job. A recent Op/Ed in the New York Times pleaded for a stimulus package to incentivize employers to offer new grads entry-level jobs. While a stimulus package may very well help, it's important to remember that people are getting jobs--with regularity.
According to the Department of Labor, nonfarm payroll employment has expanded by 573,000 since December. The number of unemployed is under 10% nationally. It's true that there are more unemployed recent graduates now than there were two years ago, but it doesn't mean that you don't have a chance of landing a job. You just need to pay attention to where the jobs are--both in terms of industry sector and in terms of location.
Action step: Take a look at Indeed's job postings per capita or industry employment trends. Consider refining your search based on what you find!
(I found a job in a recession post-college, when I decided to make a contrary move. I moved to DC instead of New York to seek out a job as an Editorial Assistant in book publishing. My job search took three weeks.)
Not sure whether to laugh or cry? If your mom tells you they are moving to a new house so that there is less space to clean up, you may want to take this as a subtle hint. (This really happened to a friend of mine...he was finally told "we love you but we don't have anymore room.)
Bottom line: Ignore the naysayers, and the gloom and doom statistics.
Your job search isn't about numbers. It may be a numbers game to find positions, but in the end, people hire people--not resumes or online applications. Proof positive: All of the recent grads who were guest bloggers on this site last summer to discuss their "hire me" strategies have jobs. Full-time ones with benefits.
For the most part, the best way to get hired is the same as it was 15 years ago:
- Know what you are good at
- Learn what employers need
- Target the market and research potential opportunities
- Build a community/network
- Articulate how you can meet employer needs
Yes, social media has complicated the process, but it's also shortened the distance between people and opportunities. (Earlier today, I reached out on Twitter to share a piece I wrote for Career Hub about Olympic Gold Medalist, Natalie Coughlin. She wrote back. How cool is that?)
What are you waiting for? Get out there! (Then let me know how I can help.)