Archive for the ‘career planning’ Category

Lack of Jobs Got You Discouraged? Don’t Halt Your Job Search!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

If the lack of entry-level jobs has discouraged you to the point that you have stopped looking for a position, snap out of it. Now is not the time to roll up your resume and escape on that cross country camping trip you’ve always wanted to take. At least, not if you want to find a job before 2014.

Mick building the tent!

According to Barbara Kiviat* in this week’s Time magazine:

Were the economy to magically start regenerating jobs at a healthy clip——say, 200,000 a month——it would still take 3 1/2 years to return to where we were [before the recession started in Dec. 2007], never mind the jobs we need for new entrants into the workforce.”

So what does that mean for you? Only that delaying your job search in favor of camping until the US Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes some more attractive job market numbers means you’ll be living in a tent for 3.5 or more likely 7.5 years (my personal estimation).

Tent completed.

Here’s why. Two reasons.

#1. The economy is not going to recover for awhile, so don’t wait until the media announces that it’s out of rehab.

Professional and management jobs in business are disappearing faster than tickets to the new Harry Potter World at Universal. But the good news is that the need for work to get done isn’t. There are jobs out there.

There is an explosion of microenterprise in this country. And all of these entrepreneurs need help…the kind of help that a recent college graduate is likely to be able to provide. This includes accounting, web design and development, PR, marketing, and all sorts of contract assignments in other fields. Just check out Urban Interns if you don’t believe me.

[Sidebar:] As a small business owner myself who meets with several other small business owners regularly, I know this to be true. In fact, I make it a policy to hire only recent college graduates because I believe that not only are most of them smarter than me, but they work super hard if given the chance.

And the reason I felt compelled to blog about all this at 10:30 pm is because I feel a huge disconnect between what college students are currently telling me, and the way the economy is going. Several students have recently told me that they would rather turn down contract work in favor of waiting for the economy to recover. What?! Contract work builds your resume, lets employers know you have the ability to work independently, and it could potentially lead to your starting your own business. It did for me!

#2. The competition isn’t going anywhere either!

Even if you abhor the idea of contract assignments now, it’s a myth that the competition for the few entry-level jobs that are available will be less fierce in a few years. Companies are going to use these next few years to figure out how to do more with less. My advice is to suck it up now, and approach the job search as if it were your full-time job. It is no fun working on one resume all day for a single job application, and writing cover letters is about as fun as cleaning the toilet, but it’s worth it when you finally get that employment contract in the mail.

On the other hand…if you’re like my doctoral student friend who speaks five languages, owns a beagle and knows how to make food out of dirt – and who can actually survive in the wilderness with only a beagle and a bear for company – by all means go camping! You just might make it in this crazy new economy without a “real” job after all. (Yes, Mick, I said real job.)

It is a damn nice tent!

*Source: “How to Create a Job”, by Barbara Kiviat. Time Magazine (March 29, 2010, pg.19)

5 Career Planning Myths for College Students and Recent Grads

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Myth #1: There are a few “safe” careers that make parents proud, have prestige, and mean you’ll be happy and make money for the rest of your life. Truth: No career is truly safe. Different professions come in and out of vogue. Authenticity never goes out of style. Follow your heart and your interests, not what someone else thinks you should do.

Myth #2: You must decide what you want to do for the rest of your life before you graduate, or very soon after. Truth: The only thing you will do consistently for the rest of your life is ask yourself what you want to do. You need to find jobs you enjoy and that allow you to gain new skills. Eventually you’ll realize you have been building a career all along.

Myth #3: In order to get your first job, you must have already had a job. Truth: You merely need to demonstrate that you possess an understanding of the job to be done and that you have the necessary skills. This is where resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills and networking are critical.

Myth #4: The Campus Career Center is a waste of time. Truth: Many CCC’s employ Ph.D’s in Counseling Psychology; people who are trained to assess your intrinsic aptitudes and attitudes. The staff is knowledgeable, cares, and wants to help you.

Myth #5: The Campus Career Center really rocks! They have all the answers. Truth: Some CCC’s don’t have properly trained staff, they don’t care (or, they’re understaffed and underpaid) and you won’t get the attention you need. Some companies actually avoid recruiting at college based because of staff.

Planning for Your Future or Merely Your Next Job?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Are you currently taking steps to plan for your future career? Odds are you aren’t. Most likely you are so worried about finding a job, any job, that you aren’t looking at the big picture. Instead, you are trying to stuff your resume with as many keywords from the job description a possible in order to bypass the filters on the HR scanning software. Basically, you’ve skipped step one of career planning, and dived head first into step four. Not a good strategy.

Graduating during a recession when jobs are scarce is no picnic. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on your “real career” until the market recovers because the job market may not turn around for another ten years.  If you pay attention to the news you’ve heard reports that the economic recovery in this country is likely to be a jobless recovery. That means that while the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) may go up, people will remain out of work. Companies will find ways to be more productive with less people. And, as the healthcare costs rise, business owners have less and less incentive to create more jobs.

So, where does all this leave you? The recent graduate who has brains, ambition, and plans for a successful career?

It leaves you with a decision. Are you going to simply continue to look through the wants ads and apply wily-nily to anything you see? Or, are you going to take a thoughtful approach, and consider what all of this means to your specific situation? Telecommuting to work and freelance/contract work is going to be more common in the next few years. People with skills that don’t necessarily thrive in an office environment are going to fare well in the upcoming years. In other words, you don’t want to rely on a company for your future career.

Do you have skills that could be turned into your own business? Are you a graphic designer, computer programmer, interior designer, chef, organizing expert, or writer? Could you be building up a portfolio of work to show potential clients? What steps are you currently taking to plan for your future career? Maybe now is the perfect time to look for a jobternship and gather the skills you’ll need to successfully run your own business some day.

Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you are a perfect fit for their company. That company may not exist tomorrow. Job security starts and ends with you. That is more true now than ever before.

Worst Excuse EVER for Not Finding a Job

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

It’s frustrating to emerge from college with your hard earned degree in hand – eager to put it to good use – only to have door after corporate door slammed in your face. But that’s the reality today’s recent graduates are facing, and some are handling it better than others.

Trina Thompson, a recent graduate of Monroe College in the Bronx, is attempting to sue her Alma Mater for what she deemed as failure to live up to their end of the bargain by not securing her a job in the IT industry promptly upon graduation. She told CNN, “They’re supposed to say, ‘I got this student, her attendance is good, her GPA is all right — can you interview this person?’ They’re not doing that.”

Monroe College, Bronx NY

Monroe College, Bronx NY

Thompson also accuses the school of giving special treatment to certain types of students. White students? Rich students? Minority students? Uh…no. “They favor more toward students that got a 4.0. They help them more out with the job placement,” she said.

It isn’t the school that tells the companies which students to hire Miss Thompson. Companies have an obligation to their stakeholders – not to mention the employees who work for them – an obligation not to place people in positions who are unable to cope with reality. While you feel discriminated against based on your grades, I am willing to bet it was your attitude that repelled recruiters more effectively than a bad case of B.O.

In fact, many companies look for students who are well-rounded and who have adequate GPA’s – not GPA superstars. Several students’ GPA’s suffer while they work part and full-time jobs to get experience in their chosen fields.

Recruiters want students with drive, a can-do attitude, and tenacity. Three months out of school and your solution to unemployment during one of the worst recessions in U.S. history is to sue your school? You have almost guaranteed yourself a permanent place in the unemployment line.

A better alternative would’ve been to start working with the Career Center about six-months before graduation. You would have been able to research the companies most likely to hire someone with your newly acquired IT skills. Then you could have set up informational interviews, met people currently working at the companies you found most appealing, and networked your way to an appropriate entry-level job.

Her mother, who apparently supports her daughters decision to sue the school for approximately $70,000 in tuition costs, is quoted in the New York Post as saying, “This is not the way we want to live our life. This is not what we planned.”

Hmm…it rained a few days ago when I had planned to take my daughter to the beach. The weather app on my iPhone didn’t show any rain…can I sue Steve Jobs?

“Great Grad 2009” Offers Advice for the Class of 2009

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

We are thrilled to announce that this year’s “Great Grad” is Rachel Rudwell; an accomplished videographer, photographer and television professional based in Los Angeles. She is a production coordinator for Original Productions and is getting ready to film a documentary for Sunflower Solutions in Africa next month.

Here’s a brief excerpt from our interview with Rachel in which she offers some great advice for soon-to-be grads.


G2G: Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew while you were in college?

RR: NEVER underestimate the power of the “informational meeting” (also known as an informational interview ). For whatever reason, people never seem to talk about those!

During my senior year of college, I decided to work in TV production even though I’d studied nothing relevant. So, I avidly began researching companies with shows I enjoyed. I then used tools like LinkedIn to contact people with impressive resumes, essentially saying, “I am inspired by your work and would love to grab a coffee sometime to learn more about your experiences” (in slightly longer, personalized messages).

I expected most of my emails to go unanswered, but I quickly found that my expectations were too low. I actually heard back from tons of people! It’s incredible how many individuals are open and excited to share their stories. Simply speaking with them, you can learn the ins and outs of a career field in a matter of months rather than years.

The important thing about informational meetings is that you aren’t asking for a job. You’re just asking for someone to share his or her story. This takes the pressure off both of you, and you can chat in relative ease. And, when jobs do open up, the people you’ve met will think of you for the positions!

Read the full interview with Rachel.

Grad to Great Career Discussion on

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Beth and I were not able to get to all the questions we received this afternoon, so we’ll be posting some additional Q&A for the remainder of the week. Thanks so much to everyone who joined in and sent us questions and comments during the discussion. If you missed it, you can read the entire career chat transcript here.

How to Impress Potential Employers in Less than 30 Seconds

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Looking to get noticed by a potential employer during an on-campus meet-and-greet, career fair or student-run conference? Or, need to impress a recruiter during an on-campus interview with a foreign-owned company? You don’t have much time during these types of events. One way to stand out from the crowd is to know your current events. Being able to initiate and carry on a conversation – that doesn’t revolve entirely around your own job search – will make you more attractive to recruiters and alumni who’ve more than likely been listening to the same tired introductory speech all day or night.

One way to get some info outside of your college campus microcosm (besides Twitter and Facebook) is In a matter of seconds you can scan the front pages of almost every newspaper in the world.

They also have a virtual map so you can find newspapers even if you don’t know what they’re called. Want to know what El Mercurio is reporting today? Check it out.

Being well-read is also something you’ll want to strive for throughout your entire career. Knowing the classics is essential when you’re coming out of college. Get reacquainted with Henry James, Mary Louise Alcott, and Charles Dickens at Fullbooks. These books are posted online for you to scroll through.

Can’t Find the Name of the Hiring Manager?

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Every career expert tells you to address your cover letter to a specific person, right? They warn letters with generic salutations like, Dear HR Manager, are sure to end up in the trash bin. But some technology savvy companies make this next to impossible by not listing staff member names online, or by obfuscating HR titles on LinkedIn.

Solution? Time warp back to the 1980’s and use the telephone. Here’s a link to over 900 US companies from with tips and tricks for getting around their automated voicemail services. So, next time you’re unsure who to address your cover letter to, use this list to get a live person and just ask.

Hiring Expected to Decline 22% From 2008: 20 Things Grads Need to Know to Boost Job Search Mojo

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

If you believed early media reports that companies in 2009 would be hiring the same number of graduates they did in 2008, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. Turns out hiring for the Class of 2009 isn’t going to be flat afterall. It’s going to take a major nosedive. According to the NACE Job Outlook 2009 Spring Update survey, companies expect to hire 22% fewer graduates than last year. That’s 1/5 of the total number of jobs that would have been available last year. According to the AP, there are 2 million available jobs right now, and 1.5 million college students expected to graduate in May. Now add all the experienced professionals who have been laid off, plus stay-at-home moms re-entering the workforce, small business owners closing shop and looking for a steady paycheck.

The downturn in hiring affects all regions of the US, but the Northeast and West are the hardest hit. Companies that are hiring have indicated they will hire many less graduates than last year. So, if you’re planning to graduate this May you need to start planning your job search now. You can wait until after mid-terms are over, but no more excuses for putting it off after that.

So, here are the 20 Things Grads Need to Know to Boost Their Job Search Mojo!

Realities for the job market this year (and every year):

  1. No one owes you anything, even if you did just pay your way through school. For every one of you, there’s about 100 others who did that and more to get to exactly the same spot you are today.
  2. There’s always someone else out there who wants it more than you do. You are competing with that person for every single job you apply for this year.
  3. Only the top candidates are going to get hired. (What does a top candidate look like?)
  4. Grades will matter to some companies more than others.
  5. Work experience gained during internships will be expected.
  6. If you haven’t started thinking about what you want to do when you graduate you’re in trouble.
  7. Hard work is the only true path to success. Finding a job takes hard work.(There is no such thing as a hidden job market! There are jobs companies only advertise internally though.)
  8. Social networking is not the ticket to job offers for everyone
  9. Companies want grads who know how to sell; even for non-sales jobs.
  10. Knowing how to communicate is a critical skill for getting hired.

To improve your chances of getting hired you need:

  1. A resume
  2. A good understanding of your transferable skills
  3. An understanding of what you’re good at and what you enjoy
  4. A commitment to your job search
  5. The ability to set goals effectively (simply writing goals down isn’t even close to doing this the right way)
  6. Conversations with as many people as possible
  7. An open-mind and creativity
  8. Tenacity
  9. People who will recommend you and be a reference for you
  10. Confidence in yourself (This is where fake it ’till you make it applies…not on your resume)

On April 2nd at 9am CST I’m hosting a free webinar to discuss these issues and other topics related to career planning. If you haven’t started planning for life outside of college yet, you can’t afford to miss this free 30-minute presentation. Click here to register and submit a question you’d like answered during the presentation.