Apr 19 2010

Onward And Upward!

Despite the recent slight uptick in job growth, the graduating class of 2010 will face the toughest job search challenge of the past 20 years, maybe longer.  Sadly, it will be harder for most new graduates to find work related to their degrees than in recent memory.  While so many earlier generations were promised unlimited opportunities for growth and advancement with their degrees in hand, those about to enter the workforce have major concerns – rightful – about what they will do to earn a living with openings for good  jobs being so few and far between.

Certainly for some, the prospects may be less dire.  Those who have already completed formal internships have a greater chance of finding a career-oriented position than those who didn’t participate.  And yes, there are specialty areas that will see job growth, like biotech, green technologies, hi-tech and computer sciences.  But what will other graduates have to do to get themselves into good jobs and onto career paths, not to mention keep productively occupied.

Here are some possible options:

  • As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, volunteerism is a great way to utilize your scholastic gifts and accomplishments.  There are always groups that can benefit from your skills and interests through the extension of your time and effort.   It doesn’t matter where you volunteer, as long as you demonstrate commitment and respect, and treat the responsibilities with the same sense of obligation and (hopefully) enthusiasm you would a paid position.  The opportunity to put your skills to good use in service to others can often lead to a paid position because decision makers get to see you in action.  It also increases your opportunities for networking.  Now, I’m not suggesting you volunteer for 40+ hours each week, but if you’re not presently employed, 10 to 15 hours a week will give you ample opportunity to make a viable contribution, and still have plenty of time to keep your job search active.
  • Taking additional classes – related to your newly acquired degree or not – is also a good way to spend time.  Contacts you make in the world of academia can often lead to real world work opportunities.  You may discover a classmate is starting a business and needs your talents to complement or supplement their own.  Or maybe you’ve thought of starting your own business; being around others with similar interests can help your dream come to fruition.  Professors and instructors frequently have contacts outside the school that can be beneficial, and they can also arrange introductions or provide letters of recommendation to help you get your foot in the door or take that first step in the right direction.
  • Spend time at the library to research other ways to utilize your newest skills and discover areas where you might refocus your efforts.  Your newly minted teaching degree, for example, might be of interest to companies that develop and produce educational games or learning tools.  Or you could teach in a facility that specializes in educating newly arrived immigrants.  How about offering your services as a tutor to high school students who struggle with topics you know well? Explore the not-so-obvious ways to use your new degree!
  • Another option is to go on more informational interviews.  Try to arrange meetings with specialists in your field of interest.  Ask how they have nurtured their careers and about the challenges they have faced in their industry.  Learn about other positions within the industry where your skills may also be applicable.  You may learn you have more options than you realized.  Sure it can be intimidating to make appointments with people you don’t know, but use your network(ing skills) to their best advantage, and remember to ask, “Do you know someone who knows someone?” to help make those appointments and introductions.
  • Another place to meet other professionals is through the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), (offices are frequently attached to Small Business Administration locations).  How about your local Chamber of Commerce?  They probably host or sponsor career-oriented meet-and-greet events.  Check your community’s local newspaper or the Chamber’s website for upcoming programs.
  • Also, don’t forget to stay in contact with your career counselors at your alma mater.  Just because you’ve graduated and left their halls doesn’t mean you lose them as a resource.  Also take advantage of career centers at other schools, in state employment centers, and through private career coaches.  Work on your interviewing skills and keep them sharp so that when the right opportunity comes along you are fully prepared to Wow the interviewers and decision makers.

Yes, times are tough.  But your job search is just beginning.  And although it may take a while to land that first career-path gig, you have more options for finding that dream job than you may have realized, and I encourage you to pursue these and any other options you can think of.  Sitting still wont get you anywhere, so you might as well move onward and upward.

For other job search and career tips for new graduates and not-so-new graduates, Please visit us at:  hanklondon.com

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