After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Scary Stuff

Here we are in mid-October, just two weeks before Halloween.  It is a time of year when many families gather together around the TV and watch such heartwarming holiday classics as Psycho or Silence of the Lambs or the enduring Children of the Corn.

It is also approximately five months since many confident young degree recipients walked to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, blissfully unaware that they were walking the plank into the murky waters of a turbulent job market. And now, scarier than Edgar Allan Poe’s The Headless Horseman is…The Jobless Graduate. 

Right about now, many 2011 grads have begun to think, Will I ever get a job?

And their parents have begun to think, I went to four Parents’ Days and all I got was a lousy T-shirt and $100 grand of tuition payments… that are NOW due.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a young woman who, in another day and time, would surely be well past the transition stage in her first “real” job.  After graduating from a private college, she was awarded an exclusive Fulbright scholarship. This allowed her to travel to Europe to earn her Master’s degree in economics from a prestigious London university, which she recently completed.  She also speaks three languages fluently – English, Polish, and Spanish.  She has not yet found a job.  And more telling, she is not really sure what kind of job she wants.

Her story, with a few additions and subtractions of degrees and languages, is shared by many 2011 graduates who have thus far been unsuccessful in unearthing that “first” job.

What did I do for her?  I talked her ear off for an hour, gave her a book, and wished her luck. Here are a few things I said or should have said that can be shared with every new grad:

·       Attack your job search with a vengeance. Use every available resource you have; every person you know; every online directory of companies/businesses; every name and phone number to which you have access.  Do not give up. Do not accept defeat.
·       Contact former professors.  Utilize your college’s career program.  Your college has a selfish interest in your job search.  Your success reflects on your school’s reputation.
·       Do not limit your job search to a specific type of company.  Go to the library and utilize its business directories.  Send your resume to firms that may or may not seem likely to hire you, using executives’ names when you have them.  Open your mind to situations in which you might not have pictured yourself. My daughter with a marketing degree got a marketing position with a law firm.  In addition, research all sizes of companies.  Some very well-known companies receive literally thousands of resumes.  A less well-known name may offer a greater chance of being noticed. 
·       Consider an(other) unpaid internship or a temporary position as an entry into a company.  In a better economy, I would never suggest this.  Times are tough.
·       Consider a lower-level position in a company you like.  Intelligence and hard work rarely go unnoticed.
·       Be open to a change of location for an opportunity in a worthwhile company.
·       Take mental and physical breaks from your search.  After a few hours, each successive hour staring at a computer screen tends to yield diminishing returns.  Breaks will benefit both you and your family.  After taking a walk or a drive or a weekend off, you can return to your efforts with renewed energy and focus.
·       Be nice to your parents.  They are the only ones who worry about your situation as much as you do.
·       Boo.

No comments:

Post a Comment