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5 Reasons New Grads are Failing in the Job Search - Part 1

Friday, January 02, 2015

 

“I've been sending out my resume for months and not hearing anything back.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a recent grad call with, literally, that exact same statement. It’s practically epidemic. But it’s an important statement because its simplicity and honesty belies the vast complexity of situations that created it. 

Although a poor resume is one reason new grads are failing in the job search – recruiters report them having "lackluster resumes and slipshod cover letters." New graduates also appear unfocused, with unrealistic expectations about starting salaries and the labor market. 

At last count, something like 53% of new grads under the age of 25 are unemployed or underemployed. The word we’re using for this now is “malemployment.”

What’s discouraging is that many give up the job search far too soon, and settle for one to two other options:

Taking a part time, low wage job to create some level of sustainable income, or, consider taking on more debt by going back to grad school.

My response is to say not yet, to both. Because many grads have not put in the work to overcome the systemic issues which created their conundrum in the first place.

And to be clear, a job search does take work. There is no “easy button.”

That’s not an indictment of the quality, intelligence or character of our new grads out there. It’s a reflection of the market, and the skill sets that need to be developed to win in that market.

Skills that are different from what it took to win in the academic market. Skills sets that are typically not learned in an academic setting. 

Here are the first 2 Reasons New Grads are Failing the Job Search and How To Get Them Back on Track. Next week we’ll cover 3 through 5. 

1. They Treat the Job Search as Transaction Processing Rather Than a Strategic Marketing Projec

A well-constructed job search is really a personal project management effort. A marketing project; where grads are the product.

Many grads, most in my opinion, don’t look at the job search this way. They treat it as a very transactional activity in which they are waiting for someone to offer them something.

They think:

"I submit a resume, therefore I am conducting a job search."

"I applied for a job online; therefore I am conducting a job search."

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

They are transaction processing. Not job searching, or career starting, or marketing. 

To be successful in the job search, grads need to construct a detailed, multi-faceted project plan that will take them from where they are, to where they want to be.

The Solution: Shift the Mindset, and Create the Plan

  • Create a job search strategic plan and work it every day. 
  • Identify the overarching goal of your job search strategy.
  • Establish timelines for desired outcomes for the overall job search, and the number of interviews and other job search activities you want each week.
  • Set weekly, and daily goals for each type of job search activity: online search, offline search, informational interviews, networking, and social media.
  • Be sure to allot a good amount of time for research as an important aspect of your strategy.
  • Create a dedicated workspace and equip it professionally.
  • Identify a job search or support group you can go to for community.
  • Consider hiring a career coach, job search consultant, or mentor to create a sense of accountability.

 

2.  They Have a Short Term Mindset

All projects have a “schedule,” but many grads approach the job search strategy with unrealistic expectations of what this schedule should be. 

Consider stats, which indicate a job search in the US takes an average of 22 weeks.

Question: What has a student done in 20 years of academics that has lasted 22 weeks?

Answer: Practically nothing. Even summer vacation doesn't last 22 weeks!

School calendars are diced into periods, quarters, mods, semesters, and seasons. Virtually none of them extend to 22 weeks.  

Grads come out with a mindset that life happens in 90-day increments, or thereabouts. They aren't mentally prepared for the long-haul journey that is a job search in today’s market.

Often I hear this relayed in a comment from a parent:

"My daughter sends out five applications on line every day, doesn't hear back, and then has a meltdown on Friday."

The Solution: Build Realistic Timeline Expectations Into the Plan

  • Conduct market research and determine what’s happening in the area you are searching. How long are job searches taking for different disciplines?
  • Build realistic expectations for the Job Search Project timeline. Give yourself more time than you think you need.
  • Develop a financial plan to support yourself while searching. Whether it’s part time work, living with parents or other family, have a 6 to 8 month plan so that doesn't create daily stress.

 

The job search landscape for new grads is challenging right now, there’s no doubt. But after working with and talking to hundreds of young adults I’m sure of one thing: it’s not all about the economy.

We've got to help new grads develop the skills, the mindset, and the strategy to get them successfully from college, to career. 

In next week’s column, we’ll cover 3 more reasons why new grads are failing in the job search today. 

You can download this entire report here. Lea McLeod created The Resume Coloring Book E-course to help you craft a step-by-step, color-coded resume in 6 simple sections that is proven to pass the “7 second recruiter scan.” Her career insights have been featured in Forbes, Mashable, LifeHacker, Daily Muse and Business Insider. Connect with her on LinkedIn

 

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