Jobs outlook is dim, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity

December 18, 2011

My niece graduated from American University the other day, which got me thinking about the state of the job market.

Judging from our cover story, it looks like it will be a while yet before most companies really start hiring again in any significant way. There’s just too much uncertain-ty in the global economy for many firms to make big bets on new initiatives. Caution seems to be the rule of the day.

So what’s a fresh grad to do?

It hit me while reading Marjorie Censer’s profile this week of a recruiter at the government contractor TASC. Where does the recruiter go to find candidates? She searches the Web for names. She goes to hiring fairs. She attends industry conferences.

In other words, if you want to get hired, you can’t just apply for a job. You gotta put yourself out there.

Mingle with people who are in the industry you are interested in. Participate in online communities frequented by people in your chosen profession.

Circulate.

It’s a competitive world, and we need every break we can get.

Job tips sometimes come from the most unexpected places.

Last week, I attended a luncheon hosted by the Economic Club of Washington. The speaker was Eric E. Schmidt, executive chairman of Google.

Now, I knew Google founder Sergey Brin had Prince George’s ties. But I didn’t know that Schmidt is a local boy, too. He was born in Washington and grew up in Arlington, where he graduated from Yorktown High School.

Schmidt spent much of his talk focused on the growing interconnectedness of the world, which is giving rise to a new parallel “society of cyberspace” that is so powerful it is upending industries and, more recently, governments.

He pulled out a cell phone. To some in the developing world, he proclaimed, a mobile phone is more important than running water. The phone is now a direct link to supercomputers serving up an ever-growing accumulation of knowledge.

If you are a young technologist, he counseled, “you are building for a mobile phone.”

In other words, mobile is where the jobs are.

He said something else interesting.

He didn’t go looking for employment at Google. At the time, he was chief executive at Novell. He had his hands full. But a prominent venture capitalist in Silicon Valley urged him to at least go meet with Brin and his co-founder, Larry Page.

So, on the theory that it never hurts to talk, he did.

“There’s something about saying ‘yes’ in life,” he said.

It changed his life.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Business