Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Does the recession have you down in your job search? Don't let it!


I am determined that the word "recession" freaks everyone out these days! I think we can all agree how in one form or another that we live and breathe "the media." Whether it's through TV, Magazines, or from the Internet; we cannot escape the negative hype associated with our economy these days. Unfortunately, in the industry that I am in, "the media hype" on the recession is not making my job any easier.

My graduates are coming back to me more and more lately, telling me they need my assistance because they were recently let-go from their employer. My current students that are coming up to graduate, are down in the dumps and are fearful of their ability in finding a job in their field of study. Both groups are feeling the pressure and stress of finding employment in this current job market. Here's what I tell them.

While, yes I agree that the recession is affecting the beautiful Hampton Roads Area, it is certainly not as bad as other areas and states that are really feeling the pinch of the recession. Currently the Commonwealth of Virginia's unemployment rate sits at 6.6% as last reported in February 2009 (see
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/laus.nr0.htm). This is lower than the overall national unemployment rate of 8.5% (see http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm). Okay, so while this isn't great, it certainly could be worse...a lot worse. Keep in mind back during the days of the Great Depression, the unemployment rate sky rocketed to 20% and above and some reports even say it reached as high as 30%! Wow, now that was some scary times for sure.
Now that we have some history and an idea of current unemployment rates, why is it then that my graduates and students are so nervous about finding a job?!?! Are there jobs out there? Are there even jobs that my students/graduates qualify for? Is there hope for them in landing their "dream job"?

My friends, the answer is a hopeful one...YES, YES and YES! But, it certainly doesn't go with out a little bit of some "elbow grease" in finding these opportunities. You see, I do this for a living. I breathe networking with employers. I cold call, I send emails, I attend social networking gatherings...I do what needs to be done for the sake of my students/graduates. After all if it wasn't for them, I might find myself out in the unemployment lines one day! Am I working more now on trying to find openings for them more so then ever before? That’s affirmative. Am I worried about finding qualified positions for my folks? Sure, some days I worry, but I know they do exist.

I continue plugging away calling my employers and navigating through various career websites in an attempt to find a position for my folks. Just the other day, I was working on making cold calls off of a local chamber of commerce business directory. While I admit, the employers I spoke to were not currently hiring, many of them were glad I called and asked for me to check back in with them in a month. It’s simple, I don't give up. No matter what the media is saying about the unemployment rates or our falling economy, I keep pushing on for the sake of my hopeful students/graduates. They are the drive behind my creative ways of finding jobs for them all while hopefully teaching them how to do their job search on their own.

Here's the thing though, with the extra efforts that I do and have put in, amazingly I am able to find openings for them! Hey folks, there are jobs out there! REALLY! They are truly out there! I will even "pinky swear" you! Here's the deal, you (my highly motivated recent graduate), will find yourself in a fierce competition in order to obtain these jobs. No joke! The feedback I receive from my employers is that my recent graduates have to "kick it up" in the interview process if they even want to be remotely considered to the "flooded" job market of qualified professionals. SAY WHAT? Yes, it's true! The employer's can afford to be picky. They want the best of the best, they want the candidate who will work 50+ hours a week, with prior experience, holds a Bachelor's Degree and ideally has an industry certification (pending on the profession). So, what does that mean for my students and graduates?

My advice? Do what you can to market yourself and your talent. Make a BRAND for yourself and get known by your instructor’s, neighbors and friends. Looking for a job is a full-time job in itself. While in college, take the time to do an internship. Your internship will not only provide you with real-world hands on experience that is needed, but may provide you with a solid letter of recommendation! Treat that internship as though you were going to work in The White House everyday. Be professional, show up early and make sure to give the employer a reason as to why then need to hire you after you finish your internship. If it doesn't lead to an actual job offer, then you certainly may be able to get some exemplary references from that employer.
Next, make sure your résumé reflects your skill set and experience pertaining to your degree track. Your résumé (which is another blog in itself) is a marketing tool for employers to screen candidates prior to scheduling interviews. Your résumé needs to stand out from the rest, right from the beginning.

If needed, you may want to consider getting some industry specific certifications. Of course, this all depends on what area your degree is in. Next, you may want to consider making an e-portfolio and some business cards. Finally, look on your own as well. It would be great if I could always take all of the credit for my graduate's success in matching them to one of employer's openings, but in all honesty...I can't. Get out there and post your résumé on different job sites and make sure you update your resume regularly OR you will get lost with all of the other people posting their information. Make sure to build your network of family members and friends. Let them know you are in need of a job in your industry!

Guess what? In doing all of these things, even in this tight job market, you will see it is possible for you to find a job. You may have to work harder and utilize all of your resources. Heck, it may even take a bit longer than it did a few years ago in finding a job. But, it will happen, especially if you are doing everything you can. Really, it will happen! I pinky swear you!


  1. Nice Blog my friend and very informative!

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