While many hope and believe a college degree will guarantee a good job, this is no longer the case. As career expert Lea McLeod writes in a post for GoLocalPDX, roughly 53 percent of new grads are unemployed or underemployed. There’s even a new word for the phenomenon: “malemployment.”
So what’s a young jobseeker to do? According to McLeod, there are several problems with how most grads approach the job-search process. In her post, McLeod shares “5 Reasons New Grads are Failing in the Job Search,” and they all add up to a must-read piece for 20-something staring disappointedly at their diplomas and wondering what went wrong.
First, McLeod says, grads treat job searching like a “transactional process.” That is, they send resumes and expect to hear back. But it doesn’t work that way. As McLeod writes, you must approach the search like a “personal project management effort,” and that means creating a strategic plan — complete with goals — and sticking to it.
Similarly, she says, many grads have unrealistic timelines. These days, the average job search lasts 22 weeks — an unthinkable amount of time for ex-students who are used to semester calendars and instant gratification. McLeod advises grads to research how long searches take in their area, develop realistic expectations, and implement financial plans to support themselves during periods when no paychecks are coming in.
The next two problems are related. McLeod says new grads don’t understand that looking for work entails self-promotion and marketing. You’re selling a product, “you,” and that means identifying your market (potential employers) and getting the word out. You’ve got to network your way toward hiring managers at the 15 or 20 companies you identify as most desirable, and you should also approach with cold calls and emails.
Of course, reaching out isn’t enough. You’ve got to really know that product (again, “you”), and that means figuring out who you are, what you’re good at, and what types of problems you can help a company solve. “It’s difficult to answer the question, ‘Why should I hire you?’ when you don’t really know why an employer should, other than it would put money in your bank account,” she writes.
Lastly, McLeod writes, grads need to put themselves in the shoes of hiring managers. What are employers looking for? By reading LinkedIn or connecting with hiring bosses at networking events, it’s possible to suss out what sets certain jobseekers apart. “In areas where you have interest, align your messages with the needs of employers in those areas of interest,” McLeod writes.