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I Have My Degree....Now What?

Helping the New Graduate Get Some Footing


Now that the last graduation party is finished, your diploma has been sent off for framing, and your duffle bag is packed for that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe, you might be thinking, “What do I do next? How do I find a job?”

It’s tough out there.  With the National Unemployment Rate standing around 9%, there are a lot of experienced people without jobs.  How does a new grad, someone without the knowledge of the workforce compete with everyone else?  Start by getting organized.  Create a plan.  Understand your goals.  Your immediate goals, that is.  What is right for you today may not be right for you 10, 20 years from now, and that is perfectly ok.

Whatever you want to do now, give it your all. Do you have a burning desire to be an actor?  How about an artist? Travel the world? Your parents may not agree with your decisions, but now is the time to give it your all. Be realistic. Set a time frame. If x doesn't happen by y, I'll go to work, and “get a real job”.... 

As Earl Bakken said in his commencement speech at the University
of Hawaii, “Never give in to pessimism. Don’t know that you can’t fly, and you will soar like an eagle. Don’t end up regretting what you did not do because you were too lazy or too frightened to soar. Be a bumblebee! And soar to the heavens. You can do it."

When you’re ready to jump into the traditional workforce, what do you need to do to get started?

  1. Strategize.  Create a specific approach to hitting the pavement. What do you want to do?  What skills can you bring to an employer?  Who do you need to talk to?  How are you going to reach those people?  Once you’ve figured it out (and this will move and change as your job search evolves), get all this information on paper. Think about that trip to Europe.  Would you travel without a map or at least some general idea of where you’re going?  The same is true when looking for a job.  Develop your Map for the Immediate Future.
  2. Do some investigative work.  What company is the best fit for you?  Which offers you the things you need to be successful as you learn more about your career options.  Do they have a training program?  For example, if you are looking for a career in Human Resources, find an organization that has an HR Intern Rotation program. 
  3. Create a killer resume. Since a resume reflects your prior job history, how can you create one without any job experience? Pull from what you know. Were you in a Fraternity?  Did you lead a team?  Did you raise money for a
    charity by organizing something?  Don't lie, don't embellish. It will come back to haunt you. Set your objective and remember you are just starting out. It’s important to have goals, realistic goals.  Know you are not going to be CEO or manager on your first day.
  4. Know what you're worth in the marketplace.  Do some research. What's the going rate for an entry level job in your field? Don't interview for a position expecting a 75K starting salary if the company starts interns at45K. Accept you will need to learn. Excitement and confidence are huge. Cockiness and attitude are not.
  5. Clean up your Facebook page. Your future employer WILL check you out on FB and other social media sites.  Discard those inappropriate college  pictures, delete any posts you wouldn’t want someone who’s going to hire you to see.  Be smart about what you post from here on out.  Everyone, and I
    mean everyone can see what you advertise, and that’s not always a good thing.
  6. Network, network, network. How do I do that when I don't know anyone "out there", you ask? Well your parents know lots of people, your teachers and advisors know lots of people AND what you're capable of.  Reach out to all of them.  Tell them you’re looking for a job and what you’re looking to do.  Know you will most likely be starting at the bottom where there’s a ton to learn.  Don’t forget, that’s ok. 
  7. Don't get discouraged. There are a lot of you out there, and unfortunately there are a lot of people in general out of work. Your skills are different than someone who's going back to work after 10 years so you won’t be competing with that group.  You are competing with your fellow classmates though. 
    Know what makes you different from the rest, what makes you unique and
    hold on to that piece of information.  If and when you feel as if you’ll never find anything, pull out the “unique” card from your back pocket and remind yourself what makes you special and what you have to offer. 
  8. Be ready.  It’s interview time.  Smile. Exude confidence. Prepare beforehand
    for your interview by studying the company, the person you’re meeting, and
    investigating the role.  Ask someone to give you a mock interview where you’re asked questions and you need to answer.  Even if you're nervous, “never let them see you sweat". Make a great first impression and knock 'em dead.

Remember you're there to learn, make some mistakes, be happy with what you’re doing, and not to run the place. At least not yet anyway. Good luck and congratulations!

For more detail regarding any of the steps mentioned, please feel free to reach out to me at linda@lindafernandocoaching.com for additional discussion.

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