Stop Worrying About Jobs, Young Whippersnappers

Dawn Papandrea | December 8, 2008

With all of the unemployment statistics out there, there’s a good possibility that you’re reading this in fear of losing your job, or not being able to find one once you finish school. There’s an even greater possibility that one of your parents or older relatives was laid off or took a buyout. What you don’t often hear about, though, is that for the younger workforce, the climate isn’t necessarily as bad as news reports would have you believe, as recently pointed out by fellow blogger, the Brazen Careerist herself, Penelope Trunk:

What I’m saying is that young people shouldn’t be thrown by the bad news that old people are pushing. Things are not that bad if you’re beginning your career. Think big, ask a lot of the world, demand respect and fun and a high learning curve.

In other words, stay positive — your future looks bright! That’s because, as the boomers are offered packages to opt out, or simply asked to leave, many companies are turning to new grads to fill those slots at a cheaper salary than they were paying their longtime loyal employees. Of course, it seems an unfair way to land a job, but it’s the inevitable circle of life these days, so you might as well take advantage of it. Some things to keep in mind…

Companies are still hiring, it’s true: Employers say they will hire about as many new college graduates from the Class of 2009 as they did from the Class of 2008, but plan to keep a watchful eye on those hiring needs, so they can shift gears if necessary, according to the Job Outlook 2009 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). In such an environment, says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director, “students need to use all the resources available to them to conduct a successful job search, starting with the campus career center.”

Think inside and outside the box. In this case, the box is referring to your computer. You need to diversify the way you market yourself, whether it’s online at job boards, or at social network sites like Twitter (follow us: @collegesurfing), or LinkedIn; or offline at campus recruitment opportunities, job fairs, networking events in your field, or spreading the word to friends. The more you get the word out, the more potential jobs you’ll hear about.

Big opportunities have less to do with salary than you think. I haven’t heard much about students landing six figures and signing bonuses out of college, have you? In other words, keep your expectations down to Earth, and the job offers will come. The most important thing to think about is what a prospective job can do for you beyond your paycheck. Will it get you close to a mentor in the field that you can learn from? Does it serve as a jumping off point to something else you’d like to do down the line? Is it your dream company, and you don’t care how low on the totem pole you start?

Consider both short- and long-term. Despite the last point, money does of course count — let’s be real. The idea is not to think so much about the starting salary offered, that you overlook what that salary has the potential to become over the course of time. Would you rather start off making $35K knowing that the next level up makes $40K and takes a couple of years to reach, or will you take $30K with the promise of a performance review every six months and a better benefits/vacation package? The point is, listen carefully to all offers and then make your decision based on the big picture.

Feeling a little better? I hope you do.

What are your biggest fears about the job market?

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