Ok. So you’ve just dropped more than a few stacks on your premium college/university education and now you find yourself going back to that old summer job as camp counsellor. It’s only natural to be disappointed as you’ve just spent the last four years being filled with ideas surrounding the promise of success and a dream career. Think again. Being 20-something and FOC (fresh-outta-college) is the equivalent of being stuck in an awkward unemployed limbo that will seem impossible to get out of. While this stage of your life is bound to be nothing short of disappointment, late nights, hard work, and an endless life-supply of coffee… I assure you there is light at the end of the tunnel (I REPEAT: LIGHT. AT. END. OF. TUNNEL).
Now that we’ve come to a mutual understanding that the economy is pretty much a sad pile of sh*t right now offering little to no jobs for college graduates, it’s time to be more positive. So yes, landing a good job is like clawing your way to the finish line of a spartan race, but no, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In my experience, FOC job hunters seem to have this sense of unnecessary self-entitlement. As though reading textbooks and writing exams for the past four years gives a person the “right” to a good job. While you might have an amazing education… you have pretty much no practical skills or experience that lands you the right to a good job (with the exception of those do-gooders who took advantage of internship opportunities – go you!).
In the wise words of my good friend Drake, “started at the bottom now we here”. Yup. Don’t be disappointed if you find yourself sorting mail in the basement level of that 70-story high finance tower you hope to one day be at the top of. In order to land that dream career of yours you need to start at the bottom, and work friggin’ hard. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Differentiate yourself: There are about 1000 other “yous” out there working toward the exact same goal with the exact same qualifications. Find what makes you different and work at your selling point. Why should a company pick you?
- Maintain your job search: Just because you’ve landed yourself a job doesn’t mean you need to stop looking. Companies are ALWAYS hiring, but you don’t see people advertising these openings on the side of the street like the Little Caesars “hot-n-ready” signs. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities.
- Network: I cannot overemphasize this one. Networking is like the golden key. All it takes is one name-drop, one chance encounter, one mention of a job from “that person” at “that event”, etc. Meet as many people as you can and work on your elevator pitch while you’re at it.
- Fill your time: It’s not unlikely that your first job might not be full time. If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands don’t waste it. Gaining lazy habits is dangerous to your future self.
- Stay Fit: I realize not everyone is into fitness or working out, but releasing the endorphins that come from a healthy active lifestyle is a make or break in your awkward unemployed limbo. Whether its a weekly yoga class, an evening run, round-robin sports, or hitting the gym for some weight-training. Stay active!
- Set up information interviews: Take a break from working on your resume and writing endless cover letters, and contact someone in your field. Information interviews are not only a great networking tool but can only benefit you in the end. Knowledge is power.
- Cleanse your social media: Its becoming increasingly common for potential employers to find you on social media. Most of us have photos online that employers are definitely better off not seeing. So get online, and delete that picture of you downing a Smirnoff ice on your birthday last weekend.
- Utilize your social media: Once you’ve cleansed your social media clean of your former high school self, use it to create a strong online presence. Tweet about current events, share news stories, create a LinkedIn account, even start a blog! Social media is your friend.
- Update your wardrobe: I once heard the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. This statement could not be more true. Appearance is one of the first impressions you make on your employers, so dress to impress.(And for the love of God… NO ripped jeans in the office, ok?).
- Find a Hobby: Literally my least favourite interview question ever: “what do you do in your spare time?”… UGH, does stalking my ex on Facebook and watching re-runs on Netflix count? No. Try and find a good (and true) answer to this question, chances are your interviewer is asking you this to test your lazy-girl/boy status.
- Volunteer: Volunteering is so important. It’s a way to network while gaining valuable experience AND building your resume… winner winner chicken dinner.
- Don’t be desperate: Seriously. Finding a job is hard. Working a job you hate is even harder. Do what makes you happy and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
So… in the current downturn of the economy we find our unlucky selves in, we must keep our heads up. Sure, we’re broke as f*ck and no one wants to hire us, but I only see this as one more reason to work even harder. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Being successful isn’t easy, if it were… everyone would do it. College diplomas and university degrees are basically being handed out by the bucket load, and its no longer enough to land you a job. That means all you self-entitled recent graduates need to get off your lazy ass, stop writing tens of dozens of generic
poorly written cover letters, and do something about your job hunt or lack there of.
And that light at the end of the tunnel I was referring to earlier… well it comes in the form of a big ice cold bottle of Pinot Grigio. You’re welcome.
The Marlee Matters