Monday, May 14, 2012

Congratulations Recent College Grads - Now What?

So you finally graduated from college.  You have your diploma and dreams of a brilliant career, there's only one problem - you can't find a job.  Well, you are not alone.  There are thousands of young men and women searching for work.

My roommate from college reminded me that when we graduated in 1984, I didn't have a job either.  That was the last "major recession" and there were few positions available.  If you have read my book, you know that it took me a while to find the right position.  My theory is that you will experience at least one major career setback in your life so you might as well get it over with early.

Looking back I think the struggles I experienced in those early years made me more cautious moving forward.  When times got tough at work, I knew what it was like to be unemployed and it made it easier to withstand challenges at work.

Many employers have the need to add staff, but they are afraid to hire people in fear that the economy will turn down again.  In addition, some have to show a "need" through overtime or new projects to justify a position. One option is to offer to "intern" with the company for free.  This is a great way for someone to see how good you are and when a position does become available, you might have a leg up.  It also makes it easier for them to justify the need for additional staff if they have someone who has been doing the work. I knew a young man who did this and eventually was offered a full-time job.  He put on a suit every day and worked the same hours as the paid staff even though he was not getting compensated.  He became so valuable they were afraid to lose him.

The most important thing is to not get discouraged. I do not recommend interviewing for jobs that you are clearly not qualified for even if you need the work.  Being rejected hurts so don't set yourself up for failure by wasting your time applying for something that doesn't match your skill set or that you would not be able to do well.  Getting a bad reference early in your career is worse than being unemployed and when you are unhappy your boss knows it.

Another option is volunteer work.  Non-profits are good about eventually hiring their volunteers.  You need some kind of activity that requires you to get out of bed every day, get dressed and do something.  Don't sit at home watching TV in your jammies.  Even if you go to Starbucks with your laptop and look like you are busy working it will help you feel better about yourself.

Lastly, remember that many successful people were slow to start or made huge mistakes early on in their careers like Steve Jobs.  He was kicked out of his own company.  In his book he admitted it was the best thing that ever happened to him because he realized how easy it was to lose it all.  He needed time to mature.

Spend the time trying to figure out what you are really good at and want to do.  Focus your attention on viable job opportunities and give it your all. The most important thing to remember is to not give up!


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