You’ve all heard the numbers. Fewer than half of today’s college graduates will find their first job within a year of graduation. To amplify that, multiple years of a weak economy have created a cue of past years’ graduates already in the market.
And I hope you’ve all read the how-to tips on resume building, networking, interview preparation, appropriate use of social media and company research. These will provide you with the job-hunting skills you’ll need to navigate your way through.
So, I’m going to focus on how to stay hopeful and productive in the midst of all the bad news and what seems like a daunting task ahead. Chance are, if you’re a recent graduate and haven’t found a job by now you’re starting to worry about that.
●Chosen Belief No. 1: It only takes one.
Two times in my life I decided I wanted to live in neighborhoods that all the real estate agents said I couldn’t afford. Being young, naïve and stubborn, I proceeded to look anyway. In both cases, I found my ideal home in my ideal neighborhood.
The Chosen Belief that resulted is that I didn’t need to be able to afford the whole neighborhood — I just needed to find the one house that met my needs and my pocketbook. It’s the same with the job market. You don’t need to receive hoards of job offers, you only need to find one that works for you. It’s out there waiting for you to find it.
●Chosen Belief No. 2: It’s a process — not an event.
Kind of like a scavenger hunt. In a scavenger hunt you travel from stop to stop, at each one taking clues about your next step on the way to the prize. Some clues will lead you down dead ends while others will provide great wisdom and information that propel you forward.
The dead ends often provide important pieces of the puzzle — like showing you what you don’t want, revealing areas of weakness that could use fortification, fueling your drive and your resolve to succeed. Take something of value from each step and keep moving forward.
●Chosen Belief No. 3: Is it really a numbers game? I don’t think so.
I receive a good number of resumes and letters of introduction each year. Most deliver information about the candidate in a formatted presentation and most don’t stand out. The ones that catch my attention are from candidates who put in the effort to tell something that is of value to me in my world.
Go the extra mile and connect the dots for me. Tell me that your two years on the school paper taught you how to be productive in a team environment or how your teaching assistant position taught you to be a self starter and that same initiative can help drive the business for my company. Or tell me about your specialized passion and how my company’s work in that area is exciting for you.
I don’t think it’s a game of sending out the most resumes. I think it’s a game of trying to make a meaningful connection. Take the extra time to do that well.
Susan Waldman is co-founder and vice president of strategic services for ZilYen, a marketing firm based in Washington.