Regardless of what the most recent job number may be, College Graduates are still having a tough time finding a job (even some of you who graduated within the past 3 years!). It is especially tough if your degree is in the General Arts; Communications, Journalism, English, Advertising and etc.,. You know what I am talking about, those of you who got degrees who cannot say the following phrase, "Hello, I have my degree and I am now a _______ (an occupation or job you are now trained or certified to do)." Need a little help on this? Then think of these type of degrees where you can fill in that _____ (blank) with a degree that actually trained you for a specific occupation:
- Lawyer (understanding you went to a decent school with solid grades that gets you into a firm that helps support your continued education to pass the Barr)
- Physical Therapist
- Engineer (of almost any variety)
- Teacher (Math, Science, Bi-Lingual and understanding in most states you must pass certifications, student teaching and then..hope to find an opening, but still, you are trained for a specific job)
- You get the idea, fill in your own _____ here.
So what are the rest of you general background types to do? Yes, even you "general" business degreed people! Here are my suggestions after talking to so many of you over the past several years; those of you who started college when the times were good (think 2000 to 2008) and your parents told you,
"Be whatever you want to be, just get a degree and the job will follow."
I know, I was one of those parents back in 2005! So what happened? The bottom fell out, that is what happened and I don't need to tell you if you are one of those kids that went into Freshman year when times were good and got spit out after graduation into a WAY DIFFERENT WORLD than the one you left while in the incubator known as "college." The one filled with all those College Professors who may never have had a real job in the real world. They are gratefully tethered to a system that protects their income, pension, seniority (tenure) and, for heaven sakes, still rewards them with a year sabbatical to rest from their stressful lifestyle! Just recently, it is coming to light that they get their raises REGARDLESS of what the economy is doing! Colleges just raise their tuition and fees to accommodate for their increased incomes and reduced state budgets (funny, but in the real world when revenue is falling we take pay cuts and face possible layoffs....professors and school administrators get raises). Back on topic, but here you are with a general degree taught by professors that probably have never had to do what you now have to do; find a real job in a real world. A world that has never been so short of professional jobs for the general arts degreed person. This has been the worst situation in years, perhaps even dating back to the Great Depression (although, back then many jobs did not require a four year college degree like they do today; professional sales, elementary teaching and etc.).
If you have graduated from college with one of those other degree's where you could not fill in the "I am a ____" occupation and you are still searching for a professional job, don't feel like it is just you! Many who have graduated within the past 3 years are in the same boat! You may feel relieved that there are many in that boat with you, but it will feel a lot better to be the one to land a job and jump ship!
5 Step Career Strategy for Recent General Studies College Graduates
Determine the job within a career setting that you wish to aspire to within the next 5 years and then think of the lowest rung in the company that could get you there. For example, if you are a general business major and you would like to be in Human Resources as a benefits person within 5 years, then grab the HR administrative position they are posting in a major fortune 500 company. Beneath you, of course! Will it get you into the Department and Company you wish to work within? You bet! At least it may get you a better shot than applying for a higher level HR position. Once you have the job, they may fund your additional certifications and etc. that you may need and they can "mold you" into the HR person of their desire. Take this example and apply it to any job or field you have your eye on; set your sights to the lower jobs that will get you there. Think of the old saying, "Gotta start in the Mailroom Kid!"
- Are Internship Positions available for the type of position and company you want to begin building your career within? Don't think of these positions as just for current students, more and more recent graduates are interviewing for these jobs and understand that they may just have to live at home with a parent(s) or other relative to fulfill your goal of attaining career traction.
- Network the Old Fashioned Way! Hey, we all know that you young people can Facebook, Twitter and Tweet your way around your expanding circle of friends. You know what your friends are doing every minute and who they are doing it with...and multiple pictures to prove it! Have those friends found you a job yet? They are probably in the same position you are trying to find a job, but they may have some employment connections; remember to ask them. Now let's move to the old fashioned way of connecting within your community and family circles. Have you gone to a boring dinner party or community event with your parents (especially if they are professionals) lately? Your parents probably hang around other well heeled old folks who have connections to other old folks who could help you make connections to find a job! Go ahead, let them pinch your cheek and tell you how cute you are....just get the job! Joined Toast Masters lately? Wine Tasting Groups? Culinary Groups? Book Clubs? Performing Arts? Golf Club? Tennis anyone? Get yourself into the clubs and circles of your community where professional people congregate! Start connecting and rubbing elbows while handing out your new high quality, business cards (self promotion!)...I am not kidding...it works!
Changing Career Gears! I can hear the collective GASP at this suggestion and the collective cry, "But I had my heart set on being a Journalist or Product Manager or....". If you have conducted an aggressive career/job and now college graduation is a year or two behind you AND your behind is still sleeping in your childhood bedroom then you need to make a change. Having a waitering job since college graduation may give you pin money,but you are now in the "I am wasting my time NOT building a career" unless, of course, you want to go into Restaurant Management! I suggest you visit the "I am a ____" occupations and see what you can do to get the necessary additional education to fill in the blank with something solid.
Get More Education, but this time get an undergraduate or go on (if your grade point was high enough) to get a Masters, BUT THIS TIME in something that can get you a job. Some of you may say, "What? get into more college debt?" You need to weigh the decision on that one, but here are a few things to think over. Go to your PUBLIC State School and set an appointment with the career counselor and find out what graduates are getting jobs? If they don't know, then go to the aggregate job boards I talk about all the time on this site and do your own research! If you have undergraduate debt, continuing on in school will delay your payment on the debt (albeit increasing it although!). In addition, if you are making very little in the way of wages, YOU MAY qualify FOR A GRANT! Yes, you are no longer associated with your parents income....a grant is where you don't have to pay it back. There are drawbacks, the only one I can think of is if you choose another degree that does not land you a job! So do it right the second time around because the stakes are higher!
I know it is tough out there, but I have some real personal experience and success stories with each of these suggestions used successfully within the past 3 years. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to add your experience.
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