It’s that time of year again, when waves of new college graduates venture out into the real world, looking to land their first job. While it is true that the economic climate is less than favorable for new graduates with little to no experience under their belts, understanding the challenges you will face is half the battle. Below are a few hard truths you should understand when getting ready to search for a job.
- It’s rough out there. In these poor economic times, companies are cutting back in whatever ways they can. This often means fewer entry-level job openings. In fact, according to a recent survey by Rutgers University, only half of recent college graduates are working full-time, leaving the rest under- or unemployed. While this means you may need to get smarter, and ultimately more realistic, in your job search, the best thing you can do is try to remain persistent.
- You’ll need to send out lots of resumes. It can be easy to get discouraged when you are sending out 30 resumes a day with no replies, but keep at it. You only need that one job, and you certainly can’t find it if you don’t put yourself out there. And remember, it’s not just you. There are many other new grads out there facing similar obstacles.
- Your social media presence and profile does matter. It is not uncommon for employers to research an applicant’s social media pages, so be prepared. This may mean cleaning up your pages to put forth a professional image and adjusting your privacy settings appropriately. It’s even wise to start thinking about this in the months before you graduate, so you are already prepared when you start your job search.
- Old interview answers won’t work. While you always want to put your best foot forward and highlight your strengths, in today’s job market, giving formula answers such as the "I work too hard" response to questions about your weaknesses may not be the best choice. Instead, strive to be relatable and honest. Highlighting the ways in which you are working to improve your shortcomings is a great way to do this.
- You’ll face rejection. You may feel like the interview went well and were anticipating better news after being introduced to the smiling faces of the entire department, understand that employers can only select one person for the job. It is not uncommon to face rejection multiple times before finally landing a job. With the market flooded with individuals looking for work, it is important to remain realistic, but, above all, keep at it.
- Networking is key. The vast majority of jobs are filled based on personal contacts. Therefore, it is important to reach out to your personal network about opportunities they may know of at their own jobs or elsewhere. Websites such as LinkedIn have made this type of communication increasingly easy to navigate.
- You may have to settle. It is important to stay realistic in your search, especially when jobs are scarce. This may mean you need to settle for a job that is outside your area of interest, is at a lower pay grade than you hoped, or is only marginally related to what you actually want to do. Most people will not land their dream job right out of college, so be ready to take any opportunities that come your way seriously.
- You’ll contend with entry-level wages. Even when you do land your first job, be prepared to accept that entry-level wages may not be quite what you expected. Also, be realistic in your budgeting. Don’t over extend yourself. Rent, utilities, groceries, car notes, and student loan payments add up quickly, so even though you may be overly eager to strike out on your own, be sure you can afford it first. Many recent graduates have roommates or live at home for a while as they gain their own financial footing.
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