The Job Market for New Graduates

The job market is tough.  Experienced and successful professionals are finding it very difficult to land an interview let alone a job.  So, what are people with no experience that are just entering the workforce facing? 

For new graduates, there are less opportunities than in past years.  There three reasons for this.  First, we all know the economy has slowed and there are less jobs.  Second, companies are able to hire experienced workers much easier and prioritize skills that can make an impact immediately.  Finally, older workers that planned to retire are staying in their jobs, limiting the number of new openings.  All this is conspiring to create one of the worst hiring seasons for new graduates we have seen in decades. 

The situation is not hopeless.

The baby boomers will retire.  Many may be delaying their retirement, but they won't do this forever.  In the next five, ten or twenty years, our economy will undergo significant changes and there will be tremendous opportunities. 

If you are looking for a job right now, the potential opportunities five or ten years from now probably aren't getting you excited.  This potential doesn't pay your student loans.  You can position yourself to succeed faster.  A recent report from CareerBuilder shows some of the activities that give you an edge in your job search.  Their list includes:

  • Internships
  • Part-time jobs in another area or field
  • Volunteer work
  • Involvement in school organizations
  • Class work
  • Involvement in managing activities for sororities and fraternities
  • Participation in sports

If you just graduated, many of these are not possible.  The list does have a pattern you can use, though.  Each of the items lists an activity to demonstrate what you have done. 

If you just graduated, finding work in your field is critical.  This may require some creativity in your search.  Consider pursuing an internship or volunteer to work without pay for a specific time period.  If you can get in the door, work hard and show your potential, you will have a substantial edge over others when the company does hire.  

To do this, use you network.  Contact managers and executives you know and outline your plan to gain experience even if it means working for free.  Explain to the person how critical it is for you to gain experience for your long term potential. Most executives will try to help if they can.

To be successful, you need to do a few things.  First, you need to commit to work every bit as hard as you would if you were getting paid.  You will learn more by working harder, and you will demonstrate your work ethic and maximize the chance the company will hire you.  Second, you need to commit to a normal schedule.  Being on time and working the full day will show your commitment.  Third, track your activity throughout the internship.  You will use your work and accomplishments to land a job. Finally, make a commitment to the company that will give specific notice when you leave – one week, two weeks or more.  Be upfront about this.  You are more likely to land the internship and to get challenging work if the company knows you won't quit on a whim.

If you take an unpaid position, don't stop looking for a job.  Your goal is to land a job in your career field – not volunteer.  Gain experience to improve your marketability and leverage that experience to get the job you really want.  If you do this, you will have a substantial edge over your peers that just sit around waiting to get hired.

I'm sure there are a lot of people thinking, that after four years of college, it's crazy to go work for free.  In a booming economy I would agree.  You don't want to stagnate.  There will be new graduates that stay unemployed or take an unskilled hourly job for the next year.  If the economy is better a year from now, they will be behind the eight ball.  There will be a new class of graduates entering the workforce.  Who do you think will have the edge – the new graduate, or the person that graduated a year ago and has done nothing with their education?