New College Grads: Career Tips in Tough Economic Times

Finding Fulltime, Post-College Employment Certainly Has Its Challenges in a “Recovering” Economy.

Here are 4 “Pearls of Wisdom” I wish someone shared with me when I graduated college in a recession, and needed to find a job.

Article and Photo by Alicia Sakal

If you do not have a professional job lined up by graduation day, then it can be easy to feel disheartened. However, try not to get easily discouraged in this “New American Economy”. After all, you just earned a degree that nobody can take away, and have a clear employment advantage.

I know firsthand what it’s like to not have a post-college job right after graduating. When I graduated in a recession, a mid-western television station that I interned with almost hired me but there was a sudden hiring freeze. I moved back home to the East Coast.

To help ease fear and anxiety, I wish someone shared these 4 Post-College Career Tips:

1. Know What Industries are Red-Hot & Fast-Growing.

For instance, Technology, Business / Finance, and Health Care are red-hot and hiring now. Tapping into high-demand, industry-related businesses can also expand your employment options. Big Caveat: Only pursue “if” you can see yourself minimally liking, if not loving, a “hot” industry job.

2. Find Temporary Work.

While looking for a permanent position, take almost anything to get a paycheck, but still pursue your professional aspirations so you don’t get stuck. For me, this meant freelance writing, and registering with a few temporary placement agencies. I found steady temporary work. 6 months later, a temp job became permanent, and I helped to create my new job position.

Today, there are also many resources to find temporary / contract work online just by using sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and both general and specialty job boards.

3. Stay Passionate.

Several years ago, I watched a particularly inspiring episode of The Suze Orman Show. The gist of what she said resonates with me today. Basically, you will eventually be successful if you are passionate and pursue your dream job. Stick with it and never give up. The money will follow.

In other words, if there are only 50 rocket scientist job openings in the United States, then keep pursuing your dream of being a rocket scientist anyway, even if the odds are statistically not in your favor.

To get your foot in the door, apply to other open positions at a dream company even if the perfect department or job title is unavailable. Follow up every 3-to-6 months with connections and the companies you interviewed with. Stay current with industry trends and issues. Attend networking events. Keep in touch with alumni, college friends, and professors. Check in often with your Alma Mater’s career center that posts jobs.

4. Volunteer Sparingly.

Chances are you have some college debt, like student loans. Volunteerism can be personally rewarding, a good professional networking opportunity, and a way to show “work experience” on a resume. However, it doesn’t pay. Only volunteer if you have spare time AFTER pursuing paid positions, whether temporary or permanent. Even if you majored in social services, don’t let volunteer hours interfere with looking for paid job opportunities.

When I graduated during a recession, the sky did appear to be falling. My temporary job became permanent. Then, I got into the exciting technology world as the economy continued to recover. With passion and determination, you can also find your niche, and create a unique employment opportunity, even in a bad economy.

Originally Published on Yahoo!

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