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Your Job Search: Is it like looking for water in the desert?

April 12th, 2010 ::

Desert Landscape

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sidavid/ / CC BY 2.0

Guess what? The world changes constantly. (Big surprise, right?)

It wasn’t that long ago that we were riding high with the many new industries opened up by the introduction of the world wide web and the fascination of what a company could do with computers. Jobs were abundant. Nationwide, headhunters were gathering candidates before graduation. It’s not happening like that today. (But you already know what that. You’ve probably experienced it first hand.) Why, you ask? Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock – and if you have, you’re going to have other problems in your job search – our economy has hit a few road bumps, budgets have failed, and companies have gone under. This can make it very difficult for today’s graduate to locate a job that is worth all the time and money spent in college.

I have had numerous students come into my office with the same complaints: Where are the jobs? Why did I even go to college if there is nothing out there for me?

Let me clue you in: There are jobs out there.

I definitely believe that. It’s just a matter of finding them. And that is the key: Companies are not going to find you anymore… you have to find them! So what does that mean for you, the job seeker? It means you need to learn a few new tools and techniques so you can creative in your job search. And that’s why I’m here. I’m going to teach you how to be assertive and aggressive in your job search by getting to know yourself and your potential and options.

Getting creative means looking for jobs in areas or with techniques previously not used. Did you know that only about 20–30% of jobs are actually published to the general public? (One of my fellow bloggers knows this is true. She wrote about it.) Yet, despite this fact, 80–90% of people looking for jobs concentrate their efforts solely on finding published jobs. So where are the rest of the jobs? They’re centered around an employer’s wish list or they’re just “thoughts,” waiting for the right person to come along and make them a reality.

All employers are thinking about the future: where the company is headed, what projects the company needs to undertake, and who they will need to hire to meet these goals. Many professionals network to find the person to fill positions rather than publicize it to everyone and chance hiring the wrong candidate. This means to you that you need to start digging for jobs rather than searching for them.

Digging entails networking with professionals already working in your desired industry/career field. It means getting to know the people, talking with them and picking their brains for ideas. Networking also may mean interviewing professionals about their career and how they got there (not necessarily just handing them your resume, but rather hinting at your search in progress).

Digging also can mean taking on more volunteer work, part-time work, or internships in the areas you are interested in. This will allow you the chance to get “your foot in the door” and gain contacts in the field. I cannot expect to just jump into the computer industry without first having some experience in computers or by not having any contacts to “back me up”!

Using this train of thought means you need to follow some simple steps:

  1. Get to know your interests: What is it that interests you? You must first learn the product you are going to be selling before you can create a marketing plan!
  2. Market yourself: You must continue to learn new things so that you have opportunity to move to different areas. Learn effective job search strategies from Career Services or from your contacts.
  3. Take away the bumps in the road: If your industry is feeling a pinch in your area, be willing to move somewhere else. I can remember a student who asked me the potential job market in the Greenville area for fashion design. I couldn’t help her much because, let’s face it, Greenville is not the center of the fashion world. Keep this train of thought in the forefront of your mind.
  4. Be positive and energetic: It will be hard in some instances…believe me. But, remember to keep your energy high and your mind positive. The more negative you become, the harder the process gets. Employers pick up the negativity in the interview and this will count against you. No one wants to work with a sour-puss!

So what happens when you do all this and still hit a brick wall in your search? Easy. Back up and find another road to follow. This is where your resources come into play.

Contact your school’s Career Services department. Contact friends who can provide you with an outside view. Contact alumni groups for your university. Contact your parents’ friends and your friends’ parents who work within a relevant field. And read further into this great blog! Anything to keep you moving forward with your job search.

Patrick Madsen, Director of Programs & Education in Career Services at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business SchoolPatrick Madsen is the Director of Programs & Education in Career Services at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. He manages the Programs & Education curriculum to include career advising services, speaker series, brand management training, and other events to help students prepare themselves for the world of work. His background includes a degree in Psychology from North Carolina State University, a masters degree in Counseling from East Carolina University, and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership/Student Affairs from Nova Southeastern University.