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.
(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.)
3. You will enjoy living with your parents--forever. Every year, the percentage of recent graduates moving back home to live with their parents increases...While this may not be your plan "A," it may not be your parents either. Take a look at this New Yorker Shouts and Murmur's piece.
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.)