The College on a Dime series is written by Zac Bissonnette, a junior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His book College On a Dime will be published by Penguin in the fall.
With employers hiring 21.6% fewer graduates in 2009 and few signs of improvement on the horizon, more than a few recent college grads have become boomerang kids -- sleeping on their parents' couches, finding that their six-figure college educations still can't get them jobs that don't involve fryalators.
Enter Lesley Mitler, a Wall Street recruiter/CPA turned $400/hour career coach for recent college grads, profiled in a recent New York Times piece. Her company, Priority Candidates, Inc., will school your college graduate on the Seven Step Program: The Seven Steps To Prepare To Get Hired, Starting Now which is service marked, perhaps to distinguish it from Joel Osteen's 7 Steps to Living At Your Full Potential and the Seven Stages of Cocaine Addiction.
No word yet on whether she can train your kid on how to get a job as $400/hour career coach. If she can, her fee just might be worth it.
For parents who aren't rich or naive enough to shell out $400/hour for someone to help their kid find an entry-level job, I recommend career expert Lindsey Pollak's book Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Stay up to date in the field that interests you. One way to do this is to find trade magazines/email newsletters in your field. For instance, let's say that you're a recent graduate trying to find a job in the public relations industry. Log-on to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) website and check out the New Professionals page. You could also check out PRQuickstart.org, which is operated by the Council of Public Relations Firms and offers an online course for new PR people -- as well as useful links for starting your job hunt. Whether your field is accounting or zoology, you can be sure that there are free online newsletters that can keep you up to date on what's going on. That will make you more literate in job interviews than your competitors -- and may also help you find leads.
- Don't play video games. When you're a recent college grad who can't find a job, it can be tempting to regress to what you used to do during lazy summer vacations. Don't. Looking for a job is a social experience -- people help you find jobs, not dragons -- and the more people you talk to, the better your chances. One recently unemployed law school graduate found the lead that led to his current job clubbing. "I felt like I should be at home saving money, but actually going out every night is what got me hired," he told me. I'm not saying you should try that at home, but a good rule of thumb is that the more people you talk to, the more likely you are to stumble on the lead that helps you find a job.
- Recognize that the job market really stinks right now. There are some positive thinking types who insist that you always have to "stay upbeat". But that doesn't mean denial is a good option. The fact is that you're going through the worst job market for new grads in a long time, and you're very unlikely to find your dream job right now. But eventually, you will be able to find something -- and that can serve as a stepping stone to greater things. No employer is going to fault you for taking the job you have to take in this economy. Anything that keeps your utilities running is good enough. Do it really well, and you'll be well-prepared to succeed when the economy rebounds.