New grads: what to do when you can’t get the jobs you want

New grads: what to do when you can’t get the jobs you want
Caroline M.L. Potter
Sunday, July 12, 2009
http://www.sfgate.com/

(07-12) 04:00 PDT 07/05/09 — You’ve spent four years pursuing a profession from the comforts of a classroom, hoping that when you earned your degree, a job offer in your chosen field would follow. But then the recession hit and job openings – for seasoned pros and college grads – grew a bit scarce.

Says Matt Smith, from Responsible Outgoing College Students (ROCS), a small staffing and recruiting services company that helps companies find the top talent in the Washington, D.C., area, “I was in a panel speaking with alumni from my college and they’re worried about what they’re going to do after graduation, wondering, ‘What’s the environment like? Am I going to get hired right away?’ A lot of graduates are very idealistic and want a job they.re going to love, but the reality may be different.”

What should graduates do when the jobs they’ve dreamed of have dried up? Read on for expert advice from Smith and others who help twentysomethings find their way.

Adjust your expectations.Alexandra Levit, author of “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty- Something’s Guide to the Business World,” says, “Most people don’t develop careers related to their majors anyway, and even if they want to, if the field is competitive it will probably happen gradually over time. For your first position, adjust your expectations and look for something that allows you to master the transferable skills that will serve you well no matter what future path you decide to pursue.”

Don’t rely only on resumes. “At this point in the game, just sending in a resume isn’t going to do anything,” Smith reveals. “A lot of hires are based on referrals. Reach out and call alumni. Identify people who work in your target industry or company. Offer to meet them for happy hour. They want to talk to young people and connect. And if you can make a connection and get a current employee to submit your resume (to a potential employer), odds are you.ll probably get an interview out of it.”

Expand your horizons. If you don’t live in a magnet city for your industry, you may need to move. Smith says, “If you’re in a fraternity or sorority, or have family, see if you can crash on someone’s couch (in another city) and do interviews for a week. If you can, list this local address on your resume. That’s even more ideal.” A part-time job is still a job. Having something on your resume is better than nothing. According to Smith, “Taking a part-time job shows that a candidate has to pay bills and cares about personal finances, that he’s motivated and hungry. I’d take someone who’s been doing this rather than someone who has just been interviewing the whole time. It demonstrates a strong work ethic.”

Make the most of your current job. If you’ve got a job that’s “just a job,” you can still use it to help you get to where you want to go. Matt acknowledges, “The hardest part about being in something you don’t exactly like is it that it can affect your overall performance. When you feel like that, look for other responsibilities assume. See if there’s another group of tasks that you can get involved with.”

Have a Plan B. Smith admits, “A lot of students shut their minds off to certain opportunities, but you have to have an open mind and consider different possibilities. You may want to be in marketing, but in reality, you may not be a good marketer. However, you may be a really good salesperson. You.ll never know if you don’t explore all your options.”

Internships aren’t just for undergrads. “It’s never too late to do an internship,” Levit reveals. “In fact,” she says, “the trend is swinging older. Baby Boomers who are mid-career and using an internship as the jumping off point to switch into a new field represent the fastest- growing population of interns.”

Moore advises, “If you graduate and you don’t have any internships, you’re behind, but it doesn’t matter if your first job is an internship. It’s never too late.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/07/12/JOBS_potter.DTL#ixzz0Q4EJoWE4

Posted under: Job Search