College Grads: Getting and Keeping a Job in this Economy

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As a college grad, you’ll be joining two million young job seekers flooding into today’s already over-saturated job market. You may be sorely disappointed in what you get or don't get in terms of gainful employment. The hard cold facts can be daunting to even the most optimistic grad: The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is 13.2 percent—or five percentage points higher than today's overall rate. 

Some advice to help you land and keep that ideal job:

Don’t be your own worst enemy

A growing number of college grads are jeopardizing their chances of finding a job by displaying arrogance, laziness, or adopting unrealistic attitudes about careers and the world of work. For example, one recent survey of hiring managers revealed that nearly 40 percent of young job seekers were improperly attired for an interview; nearly a third were late for their interview; and over a quarter were poorly informed about the company to which they're were applying. Some even sent text messages or chatted on their phones--during an interview!


Your real schooling has just begun
The sheepskin’s a start. It gets you the interview and provides a basis for learning what you need on the job. But once you land the job, the real education starts. Too many college grads (especially those with MBAs) think they can just “hit the ground running.” Not exactly.  You’ve got to continually engage in "upskilling" by learning everything you can about the company, its products and services. Every company has different computer systems and software, with no one around to hold your hand while you learn. More often than not, you’ll be too busy working to “learn” about these at work, so you’ll have to bring yourself “up to speed” by doing homework. That means cutting out the after-work get-togethers at the local pub and forgoing weekend trips to the beach or mountains. 


No more help mapping your career path

In-house training and career guidance programs have gone the way of the dial phone. Ditto for those paid mentoring programs. The competition for jobs and the availability of highly qualified eager candidates means companies no longer need these perks to attract top talent. To map your career growth, you’ll need to seek out your own mentor, read all the self-help books you can get your hands on, and sign up for every applicable seminar and conference you can afford. (Companies no longer pay new hires to attend these—they’re reserved for “rainmakers.”)


Take the job—for less

Hey, we all want “The Donald’s” $100K apprentice salary and perks. But realistically, there’s 10 grads nipping at your heels for that mediocre job.  So take it, learn everything you can from it, and move out and up when the economy improves.  Well over a quarter of young employees in one recent survey approached their jobs with a sense of entitlement and a poor work ethic. Not good for your resume. 


So if you want to get work, you’ll have to work at it—and for the most part, like what you get. Got stories and tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment. 




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