Career and Job Search Guide

Job Search Tips for New College Graduates During a Recession

Notwithstanding a hirer than normal unemployment rate and struggling economy, college grads can find descent job opportunities in this slow job market -- they just might not be the high-profile positions with attractive sign-on bonuses that may have hoped for.

Business hasn't come to standstill, it's still thriving in many industries and locations. Many opportunities for college grads do exist but the nature of the job search game has changed. During a slow job market, when layoffs are prevalent, competition for good jobs is high. College grads are not just competing with other college grads for sought after positions, they're competing with other industry professions. College graduates have to be prepared to modify their plans to accommodate the drastic changes to the job market.

In reality, getting a job in this economy requires college graduates to adopt a new way of thinking about their job search.

Think Broadly

During a recession it's important to think broadly. This doesn't mean that you should become a generalist and go after every job opportunity that exists (not a good strategy during a recession), its means that you should explore all jobs and positions even vaguely related to your career field of expertise or interest. For example, if you're preparing for a career in healthcare management then try to identify all possible careers and jobs related in any way to healthcare management. Before you even start planning the details of your job search strategy, do a brainstorming session and use the Internet to put together a comprehensive list of all the possible career options that fall in line with your training and experience. Performing this activity can quite literally quadruple your job. This exercise might even introduce you to future career possibility more attractive than those you've previously considered.

Act Globally

Don't limit yourself geographically. One of the biggest mistakes colleges grads make when trying to find a job during a recession is to limit the locations where they're willing to work. If you can't find a job where you live, or where you'd ideally like to work then be willing to relocate to a different, city, state or even country. Communicating to potential employers that you're willing to work abroad shows a breadth of knowledge, adaptability, willingness to explore new opportunities, flexibility and desire for personal growth.

Additionally, in today's world of increasing globalization, being able and willing to work abroad, being cognizant of other cultural differences and business practices, and being able to operate efficiently in a global market is becoming an invaluable asset for employers.

Do Your Research

Research is key! As a new college grad (or even a veteran professional), your very best chance of standing out among a pile of resumes and list of job candidates is to show that you are intimately familiar with the company you're interviewing with, the industry the company is in, as well as the position you're applying for. Do you have a good understanding of how the position your applying for relates to the mission and objectives of the company? Do you know what the mission and objectives of the company are? Do you know the history of the company? Do you know who are the industry competitors are and how the company is positioned relative to these competitors? Research is important to landing a good job in a strong economy. It is downright imperative during a slow economy! Doing your homework about a company, then figuring out how your skills and experience will benefit the bottom their bottom line, and being able to effectively articulate this in your resume and during the interview process will greatly increase your ability to find and land a stellar job -- even during a weak job market.

Be Productive

I once knew man who spent over a year and half looking for a job during a recession. He was used to making $60,000 year and was certain that if he just held out a little longer that he'd find the perfect position. During his job search he turned a few job offers that fell below his expectation and limited his job search to positions that fit his expectation of what he was qualified for. Desperate for moneyt, a year a half later he found himself accepting a job for $14 an hour, outside of his industry of interest, simply to keep his family alive and pay the bills. During a recession you're going to have to lower your expectation and it important that you stay productive. If you'd can't find the job of your dreams, or even a job that pays a lot, settle for something that keeps you busy and that will position you for future career opportunities. This is particularly important for new college grads without a lot of real-world work experience under their belt. As a new college grad you want to stay busy, you want to be working developing skills and acquiring valuable work experience that will help you land your dream job down the road. Don't sit around the house waiting until the job market picks up -- get out there and be productive.

Get Assistance

You don't necessarily have to go at it on your own. Get some help. Your college's placement office is a great place to start looking for job leads. If you're earning your degree at one of the larger colleges and universities they should have a list of all of the colleges past and present that recruit at your college. Get a list of the current companies hiring as well as all the companies that have recruited at your college previously and start contacting them. Also consider resources like your local chamber of commerce, business and trade organizations, AND trade publications to find sources of leads.

Don't Get Discourage. Maintain A Positive Attitude and Demeanor

Don't forget that attitude is key to success. Always stay positive. Remember that during a recession all job seekers struggles to get a good job, college graduates and experienced professionals alike. If new colleges grads will focus on the job searching, resume-writing and honing their interview skills, and less on the negative news broadcast on every news station they stand a much better chance of getting a good job sooner.