Today’s college grads find themselves competing for entry-level jobs against laid-off workers with master’s degrees in business adminstration and years of experience. After seeing the movie Larry Crowne this weekend, we are also reminded that there are millions of displaced workers—people who don’t have college degrees who find themselves on a no-growth path and are ultimately let go to face more schooling and/or retraining. Here are a few things recent graduates can do to maintain equilibrium duing the economic downturn.
- Get help. Whether you pay a personal career coach or you have a role model you admire who is willing to work with you, it is useful to have objective advice as you coninute your job search and build your professional skills.
- Work for free. If there is a company or field in which you ultimately want to work, offer to work for free. Getting your foot in the door and proving what you can do can often land you full-time employment after a few months.
- Use online resources. There are many online resources that provide job leads and expert advice to help you weigh the pros and cons of job options.
- Company research. If you are interested in working for a specific company, do online research about that company and follow the business decisions being made online and in the newspapers. Continue to look up job opportunities on their Web site.
- Develop a supportive cadre of friends. Thousands of college graduates are unemployed right now. Take the time to cultivate friendships with people who are positive and upbeat despite the challenges in the economy. These people will make the most of this opportunity, and they will give you encouragement when you need it.
- Take a leadership role in a volunteer organization. If you aren’t the leader you have always wanted to be, change that now. Join a volunteer or nonprofit organization and volunteer to do something significant to make a difference. You can parlay this experience to your advantage when the economy turns around.
- Network. Meet as many people as you can who may be able to help you in the job search — friends, neighbors, grandparents and anyone else you may meet. Ask crucial questions and enlist their help and advice on the job search.
- Interview. Call the company or business where you would like to work ands ask if you can interview someone with your dream job. Ask that person relevant questions about how he got started and what are the pros and cons of the job. These people will often be flattered that you want to spend time interviewing them out of respect, and can therefore be very helpful and perhaps give you some connections or people to contact. Again, this is networking!
- Continue to learn. Employers value employees who are self-directed learners. So be aware of current events and know your industry by reading trade publications. Be disciplined about keeping your learning alive, especially after you have graduated.
- Keep the faith. The economy will turn around. Until that happens, keep upgrading your skills even if you are not in you dream job. Have a resilient attitude and ask yourself what the lessons are in this time period. If you can answer that in some future interview, your prospective employer will know that you create opportunities no matter how tough the situation.
Finally, technology has made this economic downturn somewhat easier than those of the past because you can both learn and network on-line. There are a plethora of on-line resources and we’ll discuss what they are tomorrow.