Archive for July 2009
I got a little distracted the other day while typing up my post. I wanted to say more but was forced to wrap up quickly for a networking meeting. (Very good one, by the way, thanks for asking!) Anyway, I was making a point about how it can be easy to get down in the dumps while on a job search, especially when you think about the competition. For recent college graduates like myself, we might wonder why any corporation in their right mind (hm . . . is that an oxymoron?) would hire us when they could turn instead to those who have much more experience.
It may help to think about it from an employer’s perspective. Okay. Company X needs a new information systems manager. They put up an ad and begin to sift through the responses. Many applicants boast of a decade or more of experience in information systems management. Their resumes state proud accomplishments in quantifiable numbers. Ten years is a long time. If they’ve consistently worked full-time and put their hearts into it, of course they’re going to have tons of things to brag about. Think about it like this: Ten years at a job equals roughly 50 weeks (2 off for vacation) per year. That’s 500 weeks. At 40 hours per week, that’s 20,000 hours.
Of course you’re not going to have the same experience as someone with 20,000 hours in the workforce! While you may feel like your job-searching (or -begging, -pleading, -groveling–pick your synonym) cries are never going to be heard for fear of not matching up against the pros in the industry, remember that employers know you won’t have anywhere near that level of experience right out of school. They expect no less from someone with a decade of time invested, but you? You have the world before you. Plenty of time to bust your butt at the office. (I know this makes you want to dive head-first into corporate America.)
You might be thinking, Okay, employers certainly can’t expect me to have equivalent accomplishments to more seasoned pros, then WHY WOULD THEY EVER HIRE ME OVER THEM? Let’s go back to that pile of resumes for the information systems management position on the desk of the hiring manager for Company X. They’re flipping through page after mind-numbingly boring page of facts, figures and statistics from each experienced applicant’s 20,000 hours in the industry. Then they come across your resume, polished, neat and presentable, but with internships filling up the brunt of the experience category rather than senior titles and fancy-sounding positions. Sure, many employers will throw it out immediately if they have their heart set on gaining an employee with experience. But a lot of hiring managers will internally replace the blank space on your resume under Experience with dreams and potential.
As workforce virgins, we’re appealing to employers for several reasons. We’re not going to come in demanding everything to be done our way. We’ve spent the last 17 years in school being told what to do, how to do it, and when to hand it in. Naturally, we’re still inclined to think this way, especially when we face that milestone of a “first real job” (no, the summer job in your uncle’s ice-cream parlor running a soft-serve machine doesn’t count.) Employers know we’re intimidated, and they know we’re probably going to be easy to work with, as we’re so desperate for that “first real job” that we’ll tie the hiring manager’s shoes for him or her if it’ll get us a position. We can be told what to do. More experienced workers will be used to doing things their way, and many of them who have been suffocated by the claustrophobia of too many hours in a cubicle are likely to come in with a “My way or the highway” mantra.
So we’re pliable. What else? Well, of course, the driving factor behind every company in this great country . . . money. We’re going to cost them less than a candidate with experience. If you’re like me, you’ve already convinced yourself you’re going to be making such a low starting salary that you’re subconsciously making your room at Mom and Dad’s house suitable for a thirty-year-old . . . because you very well may still be living there at that point, trying to save money. Employers know they don’t have to pay us as much as the hot shots, at least not right away. It sure would be nice if we could have shot right out of our dorm rooms after graduation and landed on the doorsteps of the biggest corporations in our field who were so delighted to see our talent seeping out from us that they instantly agreed to make a position for us at fifty grand right off the bat. But alas, this is not the way of the world. Like with everything, you have to work your way up.
Alright, so there’s no excuse anymore for thinking you have no chance against the big boys. Remember: you’re younger, you’re more flexible, you’re cheaper (three things you always wanted to be, right?) Work them to your advantage.
Okay, guilty: I went through 17 years of school thinking it wouldn’t be too difficult to get a job once I had my degree in hand. To say that now is laughable. There are professionals who are very intelligent, who have master’s or even higher degrees, and who have more years of experience in their industry than I have on this earth who are on this exciting (no sarcasm intended) hunt for the perfect job, right along with me and a whole bunch of 2009 college graduates. Why should employers choose us over candidates with twice the world experience we have and a dedicated decade or two to the industry under their belts?
It’s easy to let thoughts like this make us hopeless. It’s also hard sometimes to not ignore the projections of doom and gloom out there about the job market being at its lowest point since God handed Moses the Ten Commandments. While dismal is certainly not an overdramatized word for the job market for 2009 graduates, paying too much attention to the bad news out there will only make us unwilling to look for work at all. So why bother? Although the article I have linked to provides some grim statistics on the reductions in recent graduate hiring by companies nationwide, it also provides some novel ideas about how to conquer the facts and figures of the current recession.
In my 7 1/2 months of job hunting, I’ve met with a variety of writers, editors, communications professionals and others in my ideal industry. If I could lump together the office meetings, lunchtime chats and phone conversations I’ve had with these people, there’s a whole lot of valuable information there. If I had to sift through it all to pick out the one single most important, most crucial-to-the-existence-of-humanity (okay, I think I might be getting carried away . . . the human race will probably continue whether I get a job or not) piece of advice, it would be to stop at nothing to get the experience you need.
What does this mean? I want to be a writer. So what should I be doing? Hmm . . . I think a kindergartener could get this million-dollar question right: Writing! Any writing projects that I can take on, then, whether it be a brochure for a local church, an article for a website, or a feature story for a local magazine, can only add to my portfolio and give me credibility in the field that I want to work in. Yeah, it’s tough sometimes to find the motivation to take on projects that we don’t get compensated for . . . at least not right away. But think about it like this–the payoff will come, in the form of a job. Because no matter how bad things get on Wall Street, that job will come. It’s just a matter of toughing it out for now, taking on petty projects that you might otherwise have passed up, and accepting little or no monetary compensation in exchange for the experience.
So the best advice for recent graduates competing with tons of more experienced professionals? Don’t get your spirits down. Stay active and alive in your field. Volunteering in your industry will also keep your skills sharp in your area until that perfect, dream job comes into the picture.
Thanks for visiting! I’m new to this blog stuff so bear with me . . . although I love to write, I had never really considered starting a blog until several people mentioned it recently in the context of my job search. I guess I’ve always thought of these as online diaries, and who would want to read someone else’s diary? It all just seemed a little weird to me, but people with whom I have been networking have repeatedly suggested that I should brand myself if I’m serious about finding a job . . . and with my second student loan payment fast approaching and no end to those in sight for about a decade (how I wish I could say that was an exaggeration), I thought, Okay, I’ll try anything that might help me to get a job.
So for anyone with a marketing background, this blog is going to be part of my branding project. The object I’m branding here is me. I’ve been looking for a job since I graduated from college last December (read my About page for more info on my background), and I’ve tried more tactics than I could count on fingers if I had 17 hands–mailing out resumes, cold-calling companies, networking, informational meetings/interviews, weekly job search group meetings, registering with recruiters . . . It gets frustrating sometimes, but I know that I’m doing everything I possibly can; it’s just a tough economic time. Also, writing and editing jobs are hard to come by in the best of economies and even harder to break into as a recent college grad. So while I’m continuing my search, I’m also going to be taking some time to brand myself–such as with this blog, my website which is underway (address to follow in a future post when I get that up and running) and some other social media outlets. I’ve recently updated my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages and plan to stay active on these sites. You can find links to those on my About page. Please friend me, join my network or follow me, respectively. (It’s so hard to keep up with the technological jargon of social media these kids keep coming out with!)
Of course, I would appreciate any job leads or job search suggestions that anyone so unfortunate as to stumble across this blog might have. But I want this blog to be fun–so it’s not all going to be about the doldrums of my miserable job-searching existence that is my life at the moment. (Okay, that one’s an exaggeration–I’m really quite a happy kid, even if an unemployed one.) I’ll write about things in the news or current events, random thoughts that come to my mind (beware–you’ve been warned) and observations on life in general. After all, a good writer analzyes life and interprets it for people to understand and make sense of. Well, I am by no means promising to do that, but I do promise to pay attention to the world and bring anything noteworthy here!