I met a recent college graduate in an airport two weeks ago who had been out of school for nearly a month and had no leads on finding a job. She was discouraged, as she has assumed that a degree from a highly respected university would have been the ticket to employment. Her parents were pressuring her to move home, and she was mad at her school (and the whole world) for leaving her stranded with no job and no idea how to really find real work in a timely manner.
She kept complaining about the economy, but when I asked her if any of her five closest friends had scored good entry level jobs, she admitted that all of those in her inner-circle did have work. Some were not in their field of choice, but none were waiting tables or working in retail.
I pointed out that the rough economy was taking its toll, but if her buddies found jobs, then it is not impossible. I asked how her friends had made the connections that lead them to their found employers, and she had no idea. She had never really asked them about if they had interned, had family connections, networked, etc.... It seemed like magic to her these fellow graduates had found a secret map to getting work.
I gave her my card and a copy of my book "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Graduates" (written with co-author Anne Brown... who also is the author of "Grad to Great"... and encouraged her to look at Anne's website as it is full of useful resources for the recent graduate). I also pointed her to several job search gurus, Including Tim Tyrell-Smith of "Tim's Strategy Blog" and Jason Alba of "JibberJobber.com" (I wrote their URL's on a piece of paper and asked her to let me know if their advice was helpful to her).
I told her that Anne, Tim and Jason were the best resources to help her get her mind around the job search, and that I would happily introduce her to any one of them if she felt they could be a useful connection.
I never heard from her again. She did not have business cards, so I had no way of reaching out to her to see if she has made any progress in finding a job. I do not know if she read the book, or visited any of the talent-rich websites I encouraged her to visit.
I have been thinking about this soon-to-be young professional and the countless others like her who are looking for jobs after graduating from college. With every week that goes by throughout the summer, I assume they become more discouraged. All that work to earn the degree, and yet they have no prospects for finding a job. I want them all to succeed in finding jobs that inspire them to make amazing contributions to our society.
Here are six suggestions for college grads looking for work:
1. Do not get discouraged. This is not the first time in history that people have graduated into rough job markets. Eventually there will be opportunities in your chosen field, and those who keep the faith will find the chance to launch a wonderful career.
2. Be open to multiple options. Apply for jobs in other related industries and when you find a job work very hard to be the best employee you can. Your reputation is being created every day and people are watching you. If you try hard, and do your best, someone will notice and lead you to other opportunities down the road.
3. Consider relocation. Different cities will provide unique opportunities. If you are looking in one city you are limiting your chances of finding an employer that will provide you with ample chances to learn and grow. Do not be scared of starting over, I moved to Austin (from California) when I was 25 years old, and it was the best thing that ever happened to my life and career.
4. Ask your friends how they found their jobs. Knowing techniques used by others can be a road map to finding work. You should also inquire if there are other openings at their companies. Your friends want to help you, but if you do not ask them for assistance, they may not even know you want the help.
5. Network like your life depends on it... because it does! All opportunities come from people, so you must invest time in growing relationships with those who can connect you with the job you desire. Do not be shy or think that because you are young you have nothing to offer others.
6. Make looking for a job a full time job. Read the Some Assembly Required books, and any articles and blogs you can find on the subject of networking and job search. Talk to people in your industry of choice every day. Attend networking events. From 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM do not participate in too many activities that are not job search related (I am not saying you cannot go to the gym at 10 AM,.... just don't spend your whole day at the mall or movies). You will be working long hours once you find a job, you might as well get used to the routine!
Good luck and hang in there!
Have A Great Day.