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May 2014 Archives

search jobs.jpgGraduating without a job offer is not unusual; recent college graduates typically take some time to make the transition into the labor market.  In 2014 the trend continues, with less than 20% of college graduates reporting they had a job lined up, according to a survey by After College.com, a job matching service for recent grads.  Even as the economy steadily improves, the job market remains quite challenging.  

Here are ten tips for grads who don't have a job by graduation:    

     1. Remember that you actually do have a job - finding one! Finding a job is a full time job so approach it that way.  Create your job search project plan and get up every morning and work at it full time. Identify the kind of job (s) you want to pursue, research employers, set networking appointments etc. Then hold yourself accountable at the end of the day. What worked? What could you do better? Make necessary changes and work your plan every day.  Review the Job Search Checklist and other information on Manage Your Job Search for ideas to get started.

    2. Enlist a job search buddy and build in accountability. Check out this previous blog for ideas.

    3. Spend less time responding to posted positions and more time uncovering the "unpublished jobs" -  the jobs that are filled by employers before they need to be publicized. Employers often use staff promotions, employee referrals and networking to fill a position without posting it. Since 70 % of all jobs are found through networking (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), shouldn't at least 50% of your time be spent that way?

    4. Develop effective marketing tools.  Be sure your resume and cover letter highlight the skills and experience most relevant to the job.  Analyze the job description to be sure you are using language and key words that demonstrate a match.  If you're getting calls from employers for interviews, your marketing tools are working.

    5. Take a temp job.  You'll meet new people to add to your network, and could develop relationships with employers that could lead to a permanent job offer.  Some employers purposely hire employees on a temporary basis, which serves as a probation period, before committing to full time employment.      

    6. Build your online brand by creating a complete profile on LinkedIn. According to a recent survey by Jobvite, a social recruiting system, 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.      

    7. Join a local job search support group. Most members are professionals with experience and connections.  They will be happy to share advice, information and referrals with someone at the beginning of her career.  Check your local library or newspaper for an upcoming meeting.

    8. Volunteer part-time at a non-profit whose mission you support. It's a great way to network and build new skills. It can help you stay positive, but don't let your volunteer job interfere with a job search.

    9. Stay optimistic and don't give up.  The average new graduate takes six months to find a job. Expect there to be some rejection during the process. To keep motivated, reward yourself for your commitment to your goals and your persistence in working your job search plan. You have no control over the job market, or the economy but you do control your job search.      

10. Make an appointment at the Career Education Center and use our Career Toolkit.  As an alum, you can continue to use our services and online resources  and we're glad to help!

Photo compliments of mbahighway.com

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As we all know we are in the thick of Commencement season. Podium wisdom is being dispensed left and right over the course of these several weeks by distinguished elders, typically accomplished adults who have been there, done that and are sharing their hard earned life truths.    

But wait a minute - here's a distinguished elder who just got fired from her job, in a very public way, from a very presitigious and visible role. What would she have to tell us? 

I am talking, of course, about Jill Abramson, the former Executive Editor of the New York Times who was dismissed by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. just prior to her scheduled appearance as Commencement speaker at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

As Abramson told the assembled graduates and their families and friends, "What's next for me? I don't know. So I'm in exactly the same boat as many of you!'' Abramson also averred that "like you, I am a little scared, but also excited." 

Now, have you ever wondered why they call it "Commencement" when it is the very LAST thing you do in your entire college experience?  Why it is called a beginning when it is quite obviously an ending?

Well, because it is the beginning, the beginning of the rest of your life! And as Abramson learned and related, life doesn't quit, no matter what age or how accomplished or how celebrated you are. It keeps happening, keeps coming at you.

Unlike some of the other colleges that rescinded their Commencement speakers' invitations this season, Wake Forest kept their promise and followed through with Abramson, even though she had just been knocked off her high perch. Astute university President Nathan Hatch asked her to speak about the importance of resilience, and she did, quoting her father who, Abramson said, was less interested in how his daughters' dealt with their successes than how they dealt with their setbacks. That's when you have to "show what you are made of", Abramson's father told his children.

'''And now I'm talking to anyone who's been dumped," said Abramson, "not gotten the job you really wanted, or received those horrible rejection letters from grad school -- you know the sting of losing or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.''

Despite having recently swallowed such a bitter pill, Abramson was upbeat and told the audience that it was "the honor of my life to lead the newsroom" of the New York Times. That's keeping things in perspective.

I recommend that you take 11 minutes out of your life and watch Abramson's speech. And as you make your way on life's not-always-so-straight path, remember her advice. Things will not always go as planned or to your liking. And at those times, you will need to bounce back, to get up off the mat, to "show what you are made of." To paraphrase Abramson and her father, when life deals you a lemon, make lemonade.  

Photo: Courtesy Boston Globe / Jason Miczek / Reuters  

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It's that time of year, when college seniors robe up and cross the stage to receive a handshake and a sheepskin. All of them are proud and excited but many of them are also apprehensive about the real world and their employment prospects.

Well, some very positive news on the job market has come out recently, which should help ease the anxiety of this year's crop of graduates. The Department of Labor  just released figures for the month of April at the end of last week, and the national unemployment rate fell to 6.3% (from 6.7% in March), the lowest it has been in over five years, since before the big meltdown of the Great Recession in September, 2008. (This happens to coincide almost exactly with my time as Associate Director of Employer Relations here at Simmons, so this is welcome news indeed.)

Also in April, employers in the US added 288,000 jobs, the most for a single month in the past two years. "Not only is job growth continuing, but it is accelerating,'' said Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at the accounting and consulting firm CohnReznick. Read the full article from Friday's Boston Globe.

​And the beat goes on. The Massachusetts unemployment rate for March, the latest month for which figures are available, was also at 6.3%. See the dramatic ups and downs of the employment market over the last ten years in this infographic depciting both the state and national unemployment rates that accompanies the Globe article.

And. . .the beat goes on! As the National Association of Colleges and Employers (aka, NACE) reports in their April 16 press release on the hiring outlook for new college grads, "employers plan to hire 8.6% more Class of 2014 graduates than they hired from the Class of 2013." This data comes from the spring update of their hiring outlook survey with employers nationwide.
 
The story was picked up by CNBC which also ran an article on the improved employment outlook for college grads on its website.
 
Click through the links above to to get more detail in the stories and the breakdown by industry.
 
So take heart, graduates!  And remember: you only need one job to get you going. So get that resume and cover letter polished up along with your elevator pitch and get out there and take advantage of the upswing in the market. You can do it. And congratulations on your degree! 
 
 
Photo: Courtesy CNBC/Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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So often our non-verbal speech is louder than our spoken words.  A few years ago, after listening to a presentation I was making, a well-repected consultant at Simmons offered me feedback I have never forgotten. He commended me on how well prepared I was on the topic, but noted that my welcoming comments had failed to capture the audience because they had not been accompanied by a warm smile and a sufficient show of enthusiasm for what I was about to share. In other words, my non-verbals had not validated my spoken message. 

Preparation is an important component in helping to build your self-confidence, but mindful attention to your non-verbal speech and body language, is equally as important in getting your message across. This becomes critical when you are called upon to market yourself in networking situations, interviews or job negotiations.  You might spend a great deal of time carefully crafting words to send just the right message.  However, your non-verbals can either convince the listener or undermine what you say.  

Oftentimes, women in particular do not own and convey the inherent power that they have through non-verbal communication.  Research has shown that men generally take up more space than women and thus often gain a power advantage.  In the context of a job search, confidence is a key to creating your own space and thereby gaining credibility. This concept is so important that career coaches have been known to advise clients to "bluff" confidence even when the person is unsure of herself.  

Certainly, your posture affects you as well as other people.  It's hard to feel "in charge" if you have your knees together, your elbows close to your sides, and are leaning forward!  Practicing the "Power Pose" before an important meeting, interview or negotiating session gives you a real boost. Try it! Spread your feet to shoulder width, put your hands on your hips, stand very tall and look up to the sky. Hold this pose for two minutes. Taking more space makes you appear and feel more relaxed and confident. It isn't just the quality of your answers during an interview that will impact the outcome.  It's also your non-verbal messages that will go a long way toward persuading an employer to hire you!