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article imageUnemployment quicksand:Tips for new grads stuck in a rut

By Danielle Smiley     Sep 6, 2012 in Lifestyle
Newly minted graduates are often stuck in a veritable Chinese finger trap. The harder they pull to get out, the more they struggle.
Most of us begin our educational journey with stars in our eyes and dreams of grandeur. We are told we can do anything, change the world, build the cornerstones of our own legacies. When we walk across the graduation threshold, we are armed with an education and fueled by panache. Then, once we are released into the wild world, visions of that plush dream life begin to float away. In a tumultuous economy, the cold and clammy hand of reality slaps hard, and the harder the struggle becomes, the more difficult it seems to get back on that dream wagon. Ideal jobs are scarce and often underpaid, current cost of living has driven many back to their parents' houses, and steep competition leaves many competent young go-getters brain tickled. The plight of the young adult/career hopeful has become an arduous one, and it has made planning and preparation more important now than ever before.
The Thrill of The Hunt: Finding a Job Is Work!
Expectations circle us like a hawk. It's a foreboding, yet attainable presence urging us to scurry towards our goals. However, there is only so much scurrying one can do before you start to feel downtrodden and defeated, which ultimately ends up working against you. According to an NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) Job Outlook 2011 survey, employers predicted a 13.5 percent increase in recently hired graduates. This is only a slight increase, but that doesn't take into account the previous years' masses of job hopefuls also struggling towards the same employment holy grail.
A recent study reveals Google, Microsoft & Facebook to be among the most sought after employers for IT students, Nasa and Boeing for engineering students, and Disney for liberal arts, education & humanities . . . with the Apple Corporation being a top-choice for students from all majors. The survey indicated that young job-seekers were most concerned about job security and work-life balance in their job hunt. This has bred some strife amongst hirers and executives, as they often perceive a very fine line between entitlement and expectations, thinking the younger generation “just wants to work less.” Although there's always a few bad apples, the study also shows that for young people, “it's all about working in an environment where they feel comfortable to express themselves,” and feel respected for who they are and the work that they do.
In the job world, nobody wants to be a square peg shoved painfully into a circular hole, nor should they expect employers to bend over backwards to accommodate their whims. Many job-hunters feel like employment is a perpetual carrot being dangled in front of them, and it wears on them and starts to show. Susie Hall, the president of Vitamin T laments mentioned that “when you interview with someone and you feel like you’re not going to get this job or that there are so many people up for it, they can tell and you’re really not going to get that job. It taints your responses and it can make you come across as a negative person and no one wants to hire a negative person, especially not in a market where there are so many choices and it is competitive.”
To avoid getting stuck in bad attitude land, Michael Vecchio, Solutions Delivery Manager at Seven Step RPO advises “would-be workers” to treat the job hunt like a 9 to 5 gig. "Take time to organize your outreach, develop a strategy, take breaks when needed, stretch, then jump back in the game with enthusiasm."
Social Media Congruency: Don't be a Persona Non Grata
As the cloak of life 2.0 envelops us, it becomes increasingly important to professionally marry your on and off-screen persona. The digital world can be the cherry on the cake or the straw that breaks the camel's back when it comes to seeking a job or being sought by an employer. That's why it's so important to use social media as a tool to your advantage. If you were an employer, and your selection for a position was down to a choice of two candidates, would you choose the one with the smart LinkedIn profile and astute outreach record, or the candidate whose Facebook page is peppered with drunken gallivanting through Las Vegas? It seems like a no brainer, but a large amount of job-seekers fail to hone and leverage social media skills.
Utilizing the digital media platforms can help leverage all kinds of jobs. Leonora Valvo, CEO of Etouches recommends outreach to people who are working in your field. You can help expand prospects and make connections while better understanding the role of other successful people. Many people are happy to open up and offer sage advice that can turn into a foot-in-the-door. Sites like LinkedIn and Majors at The College Board are stocked with resources and wisdom for would-be young graduates.
Industry insights and contacts can help build an even greater overall online presence. "[Social media posts] should also be industry-focused to a certain extent to show your commitment levels to employers," says Vecchio.
“Sharing industry news and even liking trending topics can help make a candidate more visible in the same way as joining certain groups and career communities.” Taking time to put your tech-savvy-brains to use in the job hunt will only serve to help you, so don't make social media outreach a cut-able corner.
The Boomerang Generation and Crowded Nest Syndrome: Make it a Bridge, Not a Crutch!
Re-tying the apron strings seem to be an emerging trend. As the economy effectively took a nose dive, many new grads have found their finances ladled in debt, with less than ideal employment prospects. This has prompted a growing mass exodus back into the arms of mom and dad. Previous generations have treated the prospect of moving back home on par with being forced into a leper colony, however, the times they keep changing. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, “among adults ages 25 to 34, 61 percent say they have friends or family members who have moved back in with their parents over the past few years because of economic conditions. Furthermore, three-in-ten parents of adult children (29 percent) report that a child of theirs has moved back in with them in the past few years because of the economy.”
Pew reports that a whopping 78 percent of recently graduated home-dwellers insist they are satisfied with their living arrangements, and 77 percent claim to be upbeat about their future finances. However upbeat they may be, the same percentage who extol satisfaction report they live at home because they can't afford to live the lifestyle they want. Interestingly, 90 percent of young adults who live on their own report having enough money now to lead the kind of life they want or expect in the future.
While this very well may be a chicken or egg situation, is moving back home acting as a crutch that perpetuates joblessness? Or is a lack of jobs and tough market causing the move back home? Either way, there looks to be a correlation. If this is the case, creating and executing a plan of action is paramount in achieving goals, so be sure to take the time to draft a plan to achieve financial freedom. Discuss ways to achieve financial independence from your parental roommates, and take baby steps towards whatever your ultimate financial goals may be.
Recent college grads may have a tough time commanding the world at their fingertips, but worth is often measured by hardship. Armed with enthusiasm, greased with a powerful online presence, and supported by a long term plan of action . . . even when the chips look down, the world can be your oyster.
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