If you’re about to graduate from college, chances are the next step in your plan is to find a job – meaning a real job that actually allows you to live like an adult in such a way that you don’t have to eat ramen noodles every night. The problem with this plan is that you’re graduating at a time when the U.S. economy has seen better days. But even though you have every right to be worried, if unemployment continues to drop (as it has consistently in the last two months) June will be the best time since September 2008 to be job hunting.

But that’s not to say everything is all hunky dory either. The fact that you’re graduating when the economy is still on the mend means that you have a unique set of circumstances that your parents didn’t have to consider when they embarked upon their careers. So to prepare you for the realities of our current world here are four things (that previously didn’t exist – at least to the degree they do now) to expect when you look for your first job.

  1. Stiff Competition
  2. Because of all the lay-offs in recent years jobs right now are not only scarce, there’s also a boatload very qualified, older people running around who have way more experience than you and they’re willing to take pay cuts to work. Of course, this older demographic will complain that all the youngsters like you are taking the available jobs. But in reality it appears to be a split. Some companies go with the older job seekers because the company can squeeze more experience out of an entry-level position, but then others go with the recent college graduates because they’re more up-to-date on their skills. It really just depends on your career field.

    But either way, one thing is for certain. You have to be prepared to work to find a job. This means knowing how to:

    By using these techniques to publicize yourself you WILL pull ahead of that unusually large amount of competition. 

  3. Technical Skills Matter
  4. No matter what industry you work in you MUST have some basic technical skills to get a job today – any job. Knowing how to use MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint (or Preview), Quicken, and Quickbooks are just as expected as knowing how to use a copy machine. Surfing the Web, ordering products online, and creating your own website or blog are also considered Career Basics 101. If you’re still trying to figure out how to use a fax machine, it will probably take you a while to get hired.

  5. Good Writing Skills Are a Must
  6. I don’t care if you have the vision of Steve Jobs and the technical expertise of Bill Gates if you don’t have decent writing skills you will be passed over for jobs quicker than an old dog slated to learn new tricks. Why? Because in our modern world content is king. Everything ends up on the Internet in terms of a website or blog, so if you can’t string two sentences together in a way that makes sense, then you it might take you a while to find a job. Some companies even have their interviewees take writing tests during the interview to see how well they can turn a phrase. (And you thought those English classes in college were a waste!)

  7. A Post Grad Degree Helps
  8. Unfortunately almost everyone who graduates from high school goes to college these days and about 40% of those complete their degrees (as of 2007, when the last survey was completed). That’s an increase of 26% since 1997. So if you think your prospective employers will be brilliantly dazzled by your one degree, think again. Depending on your career goals, a postgraduate degree may be required. For example, if you plan to teach at the college level, even community colleges expect their professors to have at least a master’s degree. Regardless, a postgraduate degree in just about any field will not ignored by a prospective employer. Typically postgraduates are the first to be interviewed, but after that it’s still up to you to impress your interviewer enough to get the job.

Rest assured it’s not impossible to find a job right out of college, however it will probably be a little harder than you expected. But to ease the blow, look at it this way; you just obtained a college degree that took you years to complete. What’s one more challenge?

Go back to school and get an MBA!

3 comments on “4 Things New Graduates Should Expect While Job Hunting

  • One other thing that can help you stand out (and refine your writing skills) is to start a blog on the industry you’re looking to get in to. And take the blog seriously.

    Anyone can go into a graduate jobs interview and say that they’re passionate about the industry but few can actually back that up with evidence.

  • That is an excellent idea, Nic. And as you say, the key to making a blog work is to take it seriously. Make informative posts regularly, whether it be daily or weekly. And you make sure you have something useful to say.

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