I just read a depressing statistic about the job market for new grads. According to a new study by Rutgers University, U.S. college graduates from 2011 have almost half of the graduates from 2010 to compete with in the job market.
That is bad news for the career paths of both groups: for 2011 grads they will have more competition for starter jobs. For 2010 grads it means they will have to explain what they’ve been doing for the past year. For both groups it means finding ways to separate themselves from the pack.
What are some steps recent grads can take to make themselves stand out? Here are a few ideas that work, no matter what the job market:
Know Who You Are
This sounds easier than it is. When you are looking for a job, even this early in your career path, you want to be as specific as possible about your strengths and interests and what you stand for—your brand. Projecting a strong brand will help you attract the right opportunities and help you avoid making a mistake.
To help with branding yourself, here a couple of great resources:
Is Your Genius at Work? (For any stage in your career)
Now What? (For those starting out or interested in career change)
Figure Out Who Can Help
You may think you’ve shared the news of your job search with everyone you know. But what about those you don’t know but are connected to you through others? Those are most often the contacts that will lead to a job. As I’m always saying, use LinkedIn actively—connect with anyone you meet or is connected to you through college alumni associations, clubs, sports, etc.
If there is an opportunity of interest, make sure you network to a hiring manager who can help—never send your resume blind. You will not be able to follow up and will never know whether your information was viewed by anyone.
The latest book in the Knock ’em Dead series will give you some good ideas on this and other topics (and I am quoted throughout!) And I also really like Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? for real-world information for Gen Y’s.
Create a New Grad Job Search Group
Sharing your situation with others in the same boat is both cathartic and confidence-inducing. You can share contacts, prop each other up and keep each other accountable. To make it valuable, try to meet in person, once per week. And always have an agenda.
There are many great reasons to volunteer for a cause you have a passion for, not the least of which is to make valuable contacts. Here’s a good article citing reasons to volunteer to aid in your job search and your long-term career path: http://www.careerrocketeer.com/2011/06/5-reasons-to-volunteer-while-out-of-work.html
These are just a few ways to maximize your impact in a tough job market. Please weigh in with your own techniques!