A College Grad Job Search That Succeeds In Troubled Times
College Grad Job Search Alert!
If you're starting a college grad job search, read my previous 2 articles regarding job search websites and how your best chances for employment come from becoming self-employed, plus read also how the best job search engines out there are those that you custom make, as I reference both below.
The Great College Degree DeceptionI had bought into the lie. So I did it all as I was told to do for years.
Twelve years I spent in public school and then I spent 7 years in academia completing both my undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Even though I had been accepted to a Ph.D. program, even though I had even won a spot once at Georgetown University, when more than 1,000 other applicants competed with me for less than 100 positions, I pulled out as fast as I could from academia with a Master's degree, after what had seemed an eternal paper chase because, by then, I had already begun to see through the facade.
By the time my college grad job search had begun, I had come to know how deeply I had been deceived.
I got off easy.
My wife and I owed $65,000 combined student debt. (That's $100,000 in 2012 dollars.) Through blood and tears I managed to turn my college grad job search into a hi-tech job right before the dot-com bubble burst back in 2000.
It took a year of constant searching and underemployment to find that job.
But the hi-tech caboose ride got me a few stock options and within 3 years from graduation I got rid of nearly a decade's worth of student debt that would have taken me two more decades to pay off under normal circumstances. That's half a lifetime of debt just for a piece of paper.
How wise was that?
Long hours of work and sacrifice and what seemed a good economy helped me quadruple what had been a very good entry level salary in less than 5 years. While at home my wife continued homeschooling in the day time and I in the night time, we established a career.
But you wouldn't be able to help youself come around to my point of view, unless you like us had spent so many years as we did working your way through school and concurrently dedicating your life to homeschooling your own children. Eventually you just can't deny it anymore.
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You come to realize that this pursuit for sheepskins is not the same as education. You come to realize that the system is worse than broken. It is rigged.
You come to realize, once you see how far apart the results of your labor are from those of your school training, that you got scammed for over 12 years by the public school and college systems, and that you don't want the same for your kids.
All this starts hitting you around the time you face your college grad job search, if you're leaving college married with children, in other words, all grown up.
The System Is Against You And After Your MoneyOh, yes! The system screeches demands for your gratitude.
But it steals far more from you than you ever received from it, because time is life and both are unrenewable resources. When you've lost one, you've lost the other, and no school system can replace it, whether it's taken this time or money from you by compulsion or sophistry.
In practice, the college degree is just a screening tool. Unless you're in engineering or some other hard science, a degree today cuts you very little slack in securing much less in creating a job.
Not in high school, not in college are you taught how you're going pragmatically to benefit someone, how you're going to do a job profitably for an employer or a customer.
You're not taught that almost half a century ago in 1965, 5.9 million or 3% of the U.S. population enrolled in college, while only 5 years ago it was 17.5 million or 6.1% of the population and rising. Last year 70% of high school graduates were headed to campus. The system says that's wonderful, but...
Can you say the words glut, superfluous, overabundant, excess?
Demand for these graduates is not going up. Do you know what oversupply does to your wages or have you already felt it in this recession?
Do you know that others in Asia can do your job cheaper and faster than you, unless you focus undeviatingly on some entirely local need? Is that where your college grad job search is concentrating?
In the system that we've been churned through, when are you ever encouraged to apprentice yourself to a successful entrepreneur when you're young?
Instead you're taught to submit to classroom bureaucrats, who belong to protectionist unions or who have learned to survive their own screening process as tenure-seeking faculty. (I'm sure by now you've surmised that, if you're unemployed and you wish to join their ranks, you're not welcome here...)
But if you thought that meekly complying to nearly 2 decades of bureaucratic indoctrination would open doors for you, I hope this worst of recessions has at least opened up your eyes.
As a college or even high school graduate you should come to the realization that you need to do far better than what they've advised you to do for years, including getting more "education" if by that they mean more schooling.
The employment market is highly fluid today. You will have to change careers repeatedly. There is no security in staying put.
Think of it as you might a frozen river in early spring. Nearly half of the ice has melt, and you can see the current beneath the remaining ice.
That's how the job market is today. Permanent positions are not only history, it is dangerous for you to keep standing in only one place while the temperature rises!
Your college grad job search must take this change into account.
How To Work Another System To Your Greatest AdvantageTo differentiate yourself in a highly competitive market you must be perceived as valuable. You accomplish that by making a very clear and particular proposition to someone.
In essence, propose to service a market need that no one else can fulfill as good as you can or propose to enhance better than anyone someone else's ability to service that need. The argument that you can do either of these is what I call your Work Proposal.
In your college grad job search a work proposal is the result of all the networking and research that you do to find the one group of people who will perceive the most benefit from having you complete that work for them. That work is a service to them.
A work proposal aims to deliver one idea that, given all your research, you believe will help serve your target market, whether this consists of employers or customers.
This single idea must reach the person in charge of deciding whether to use you or not to put it to work.
So you carefully and briefly craft it in a message and request for a business meeting with that individual to further discuss it.
Don't delegate this portion of your college grad job search.
Don't send a cover letter or a resume with your work proposal!
You're not asking for a job even if you're doing a college grad job search.
You're not working through Human Resources, whose job it is to deal with job seekers.
You're asking for a business meeting. You're thinking like a consultant, like a business owner. Work business-to-business. That's the system to operate in, not employee-to-business.
In essence your work proposal is a mini-business plan and not an application for a job. This will require you to carry yourself differently than a typical job seeker.
What To Do With The ProposalThe work proposal might look like a standard business letter or it might be a well scripted message that you will leave in the decision-maker's voice-mail. Either way, in it you show that you've done your homework.
In paragraph one you present your idea, arguing how it can improve, innovate, create, extend, grow, build, achieve whatever great thing for your future client or employer.
Tease, give a taste...don't give it all away! You request a business meeting because you want to discuss further the subject that you've proposed. Then come ready to do the work, in other words, to do a demo of what you can do for this prospect.
Do you see how this college grad job search technique is a complete reversal from the typical resume-centric, job board-dependent job hunt?
Suggest the business meeting in your last paragraph and indicate that you will follow-up by a certain date unless you hear otherwise.
I just got back from such a meeting, where I discussed what can be a six figures project that could keep me very busy for several months. So let me tell you, this college grad job technique that I'm sharing with you works.
NEVER ask for a common interview!
Aim for a hands-on interview.
Ask for an opportunity to show how you will do the work, by walking into that first meeting to find out from the decision-maker what strategic objective the business is trying to achieve. Then demonstrate how you will help reach it.
Show that you understand how to help reach that objective by doing on the spot some of the very work that you spoke of in your proposal work that you could do as proof of what you can do to produce the benefit that your potential customer or employer wants.
Go for an interim arrangement that could become a long-term commitment. If you get this far, you've had a successful college grad job search.
This is the most significant lesson that I've learned in my more than 15 years of professional work search experience. Gain something from it!
If you cycle through this process of developing a high impact network, researching a niche, and targeting a business need with a unique, hands-on value proposition, you can forget whether a company has any job openings.
You can forget about the typical, unsuccessful college grad job search in a down economy flooded with college grads competing for employment scraps.
You can forget about it because you will be concerning yourself instead with creating work proposals and attending business meetings to discuss your ideas of how to add value to a business, how to serve a customer better than anyone like you.
Contrast this with interviews that look for a way to screen you out from a mass of equally competent applicants, and think whether your college grad job search time will be better spent visiting job search engines, filling out job applications or running yourself just like a business owner.
Return to Job Search Websites Don't Work from A College Grad Job Search That Succeeds In Troubled Times
- Milking Job Search Websites For All They've Got
- The Best Job Search Engines Don't Guarantee You Nail The Job
- Superior Entry Level Employment and Entry Level Job Search Advice
- A Student Job Search Lesson To Last You A Lifetime
- A Job Search For Teenagers Who Really Mean Business
- Teen Job Search Dangers To Avoid
How Are You Looking For Work As A College Graduate?
Let's say that you feel your job search is a dead horse you don't want to beat any more. What are you willing to do differently to find work?
If, for example, you ran a stake through the heart of making a resume in order to use a work proposal to offer your services to someone that you think would just love working with you, what information do you think you'd need to know to make your work proposal shine best?
What questions do you have about writing an effective work proposal?
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