A challenging job market awaits the tens of thousands of college graduates who receive their diplomas this month. One recent estimate is that 17% of people ages 20 to 24 do not have a job and two million college graduates are unemployed. The good news is that the job market for recent college grads is improving, with hiring up 5% according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Even with less than ideal numbers, there is much new college graduates can do to find fulfilling employment.
Today we want to throw out some ideas for hitting the street after getting a degree:
Define your personal brand and bring it out everywhere. Personal brand is a new “must have” for any job seeker. For a new college grad facing a saturated market, it’s an important way to differentiate and get noticed. A job seeker must define is or her unique value proposition, or promise brought to the market and exhibit it in resume, cover letter, when networking and in interviews. You don’t need years of experience to have a personal brand.
Be realistic. Gone are the days when newly minted grads could walk into big name companies and be given impressive looking titles and stock. New graduates must be prepared to work their way up, proving themselves every step of the way. They should be willing to work hard and do a terrific job for pay that is determined by realistic market values. And their chances of getting hired will be enhanced if they broaden job search to include start-ups and companies that are up and coming, not just big name companies.
Be clear about job search goals. Also gone is the fluidity of the dot.com boom where grads could create their job description as they went, picking and choosing tasks and focus. Today graduates must clearly present their capabilities for specific jobs. A solid exploration of the market, job titles and current opportunities will provide a job seeker with well defined, realistic goals.
Start somewhere. It’s OK for new college grads to take some time to figure out what their long-term career directions are. They should focus on finding a job that utilizes strengths, matches passions and interests, and provides an opportunity to grow. View the first year or two on the job as a time to learn new things, explore the industry and gain insights into the field
In the next part of this blog, we will suggest some actions new graduates can take to improve their job prospects.