Friday, August 7, 2020

10 Job Search Tips For Recent Grads Graduating Into A Bad Job Market

Caroline Ceniza-Levine

What happens to recent graduates if job supply decreases? – Gabriela, Class of 2020, Masters of International Marketing

If you’re a recent graduate and eyeing the dismal unemployment figures (worst since the Great Depression!), stop doing that. There are more important numbers to track than general job market statistics (I list 10 such numbers here, such as specific news about markets you are interested in). Similarly, Gabriela asks about the fate of recent graduates in general, but I recommend that she focuses on her prospects specifically.

I don’t mean to encourage everyone-for-themselves thinking, but when you’re starting out in your career, the first hire you should be worried about is your own. This ensures that you take on something doable (i.e., land one job) and not something too overwhelming (i.e., saving the world). When you are gainfully employed, you have more bandwidth to contribute — referring leads to others, volunteering with your alma mater to help younger classes, mentoring others, etc.

Whether you are graduating into a bad job market or the best market in years, there is always hiring happening somewhere, and there is a lot you can do to help yourself to get hired. Here are 10 job search tips for recent grads:

2 - Treat your job search like your first job
If you graduated without an offer in hand, your job search is your first job. Spend the 40 hours a week you would have reported to the office to work on your job search – reading up on your areas of interest, researching specific companies, applying to job opportunities, networking with people, updating your marketing material, etc. There is a lot to do for your job search (here are seven suggestions for items to prepare), so don’t wait too long to get started. You might get complacent and lose the enthusiasm and urgency to land a job. You also might let too much time go by, realize your savings are dwindling (or your parents’ patience is running thin) and then feel like you have to land in a hurry.

6 - Be prepared to answer the obvious
Why should I hire you? What do you want? Why do you want to work here? The vetting process will not be easier for you because it’s an entry-level role. Employers still want to know that you are qualified, that you will be enthusiastic about the work and that you will be enthusiastic about working with them specifically. 

7 - Lean into your network (yes, you have one!)
Your classmates, your professors, your office of career services, your parents’ connections – you have a significant network. Word-of-mouth referral is significant, even for experienced professionals who have an established track record from previous jobs. As a recent graduate, you don’t have much of a track  record (though internships, part-time jobs and volunteer work do make a difference). Therefore, you want to maximize introductions, referrals and references that you can get from people who already know, like and trust you. Remember to reciprocate as you hear of leads and especially when you land!

10 - Celebrate every win
Keep a journal that documents all the work you’re putting in, and every call and meeting you schedule. Your effort should be celebrated. Small wins along the way, like that networking invite accepted, also count. This is part of measuring progress, but it’s also about building confidence and keeping a positive outlook, both of which are critical in your job search. In a down market, your employer contacts are probably anxious about their own jobs. If you’re a joy to interact with, that’s a competitive advantage.

If job supply decreases, each opening becomes more competitive
Back to Gabriela’s original question, “What happens when job supply decreases?”, it stands to reason that each job opening becomes more competitive. However, your aim as a job seeker is always to be the best candidate in the room – however crowded it is. Too many job seekers let a difficult market deflate their confidence and impede their efforts even before they start. If you instead stay positive, put in the work, measure your progress and course-correct along the way, you will that competitive candidate.

Read all 10 Tips and the complete Forbes article

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