In the midst of this anxiety and uncertainty, we’re practically throwing ourselves at employers, doing everything except shouting “HIRE ME PLEASE!” (maybe you did that too).
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been asked, “So, what are you going to ‘be’?”
All of you!
OK, put your hand down, and keep reading!
Around graduation time, this question disguises itself as, “Congratulations! So, what’s next?” It seems like if next isn’t figured out, whatever we did prior to that specific commencement moment was useless.
The job search pushes us down countless times, expecting us to bounce right back up and keep chugging along. Meanwhile, the government is dangling our hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt (for some of us) in our face, and counting down the days until they officially (at least for the next 10 years) own us.
Pending unemployment looks like nights spent awake questioning if graduate school was worth it — Maybe my friends and family were right! It looks like fear, because if I can’t pay my rent, where will I live?
In the midst of this anxiety and uncertainty, we’re practically throwing ourselves at employers, doing everything except shouting “HIRE ME PLEASE!” (maybe you did that too). As we brace ourselves for the “real world” we have no leverage, no experience, and a heck of a lot of steep competition.
We find ourselves consistently making it to that last interview or final reference call, only to be declined, or worse, ghosted. Then the rhetoric of “good but not good enough” seeps further into our consciousness, making it that much harder to feel confident that we’ll ever get a job.
USA Today says you need to be a “power networker” to get your dream job. To this I say, “Hip, hip hooray!” Networking is essential in the job process, and in the age of social media, don’t underestimate the impact of your “digital business card.”
There is some good news: According to the New York Times, the unemployment rate for 25-34 year olds who graduated from a four-year college isn’t as dismal as you might think! That said, the percentage of people working in their desired fields or positions is a bit less promising.
Regardless, the unspoken rule in the limbo land between graduation and employment is: Don’t ask about the job search.
Whatever the numbers, the subjective experience of job hunting is draining and often discouraging.
At least, during my own job hunt, I couldn't believe the surprisingly low rate of Millennial unemployment, because getting a job felt absolutely impossible. It felt like a full-time job all on its own — that is, until that actual job finally came around. In reflecting on my process, these valuable lessons became salient for me.
Hopefully, these four tips will be helpful for you, too!
1. It's not what you know; it's who you know.
USA Today says you need to be a “power networker” to get your dream job. To this I say, “Hip, hip hooray!”
Networking is essential in the job process, and in the age of social media, don’t underestimate the impact of your “digital business card.”
Once you find your niche, you’ll likely realize your professional network is very interconnected — use that to your advantage! People trust referrals from their colleagues and personal connections (that’s how I ended up writing for Ravishly).
My best advice? Talk to everyone, and always follow up.
2. Asking good questions is crucial.
I could link to several sites that list countless questions you should ask in a job interview, but I fear that would be a waste of your time, and condescending to your Google search talents.
Instead, I’ll offer this: Make sure you have two or three quality questions prepped to ask at your job interview.
This advanced preparation, as well as critical inquiry about the position, will set you apart from other candidates. Asking good questions shows that you’re invested in the organization and eager to learn more, both about your role and the work they do.
The best scenario? You ask a question that makes your interviewer stop and think, or ignites spontaneous colloquial conversation — now you’ve got their attention!
3. Interviewing for jobs is a two-way street.
I know the job hunt can be exhausting, and it’s tempting to take the first offer and never look back. It’s also a challenge not to give preference to the best salary and benefit package, rather than the best fit.
If you have the flexibility to slightly forego the salary differences (and you have multiple offers), remember this: Interviewing is a two-way street.
So yes, your interview helps the employer decide if you’re a good fit for the position, but it also helps you decide if it’s a good fit for you.
One strategy I found helpful in assessing whether or not the position or organization was right for me was to pay attention to how I felt immediately after the interview. Sometimes I felt like I’d been pummeled to the ground, and grossly unqualified. Other times, I felt eager to learn, energized, confident, and excited.
Can you guess which organization I decided to work for?
Holding this perspective at the forefront is how you avoid the “I wish I made a different decision” woes.
4. Also here's a bonus: negotiating is a must!
In the excitement of your dream job offer, don’t forget to negotiate. You’ve done the hard part; now you get to bask in the glory, and advocate for yourself!
Also, if you don’t know what your dream job is, or what you want to “be,” and you don’t have a next step, don’t sweat it. Theoretically speaking, this is our time for exploration and growth!
The bottom line? This is your chance, you’ve worked for it, and you don’t need to settle.
Figure out what makes you happy, where you feel you can make the best use of your time and talents, and be relentless until you get there (or get super close)!