Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Advice to New College Grads, What's Different in Today's Job Market?

Is Social Media New?

Not really.....we always had it but it just wasn't ON LINE nor was it quite so instantaneous. In the "olden days" we built our networks with Telephones, Party Lines, Pen Pals, CB radios and emails.

Today you Tweet and Text. You are using shorthand....and speaking a new lingo....just like all the previous generations and cultures of the past.

Things change at NANO-SPEED today...... Nothing can be assumed to be the same as yesterday without double checking our assumptions. Things just change a lot faster today. In Nano-speed, we can build some new bridges and unfortunately, we can destroy them too.

Building a career and maintaining healthy relationships will require more care today. Take care today to not blow off people and contacts, just because we can "replace" them in a few days or weeks on line. Words and language, particularly short hand can be easily misunderstood and by lots of people at once, since it can be broadcast to large audiences in light speed. Can you transmit the tone too? Or are we teaching people to be less sensitive to others? I worry about this and while I have occasionally accused of being " On Task" versus "On Relationships" and sensitive to people's feelings. We do not want to build a generation of broadcasters who can't tune in to their audience. Or who don't care how their messages affect the receiver.

Many of my readers know that I am a former professional recruiter. I built and ran, then sold a multimillion dollar staffing firm that staffed Universities, Hospitals, Insurance and Telcom and other mega firms as well as small business, government and not for profit organizations. (CT Engineering and PDQ Personnel to Select Staffing). We frequently provided advice for New College Grads…..and have done so over the years as we mentored students at Stanford University, Harvard, The Kennedy School of Government, Pepperdine University, Northwood University, UCSB, USC and UCLA. I also mentor a group called Future Women CEO’s which is a university based network of bright energetic college women who plan to become business leaders.

Today, as my profession, I do specialized consulting, actually COACHING of High Achieving Executives, Professionals and Organizations. I also advise national and international organizations on recruiting and still occasionally oversee executive searches.

I am a big fan of Social Media and the talent of young people today. I am excited for new college grads although I know it can be a time of anxiety for many of the senior class and new grads.

Never in my lifetime has there been such uncertainty in the employment sectors…..and at the same time there has never been such wide opportunity for building a meaningful career and knowledge!

It used to be that we told Students to choose their major and get an internship in their chosen field. They were to subscribe to professional periodicals and choose the city and industry they wanted to focus on. Twenty years ago we also told them to expect to spend ten or more years building a career and professional reputation. If they changed jobs more than twice in a decade they were negatively labeled.

Not today - It’s Now a Gig-Nation!

Much of the old wisdom and culture has changed since the 1990’s and the recession which followed the dot com bust. Today’s international financial meltdowns also give new college grads a chance to really choose work that speaks to their heart instead of just their bank book. Because no one is assured a signing bonus or big paycheck security today... this gives you a chance to really think about doing work that gives you the most personal satisfaction.

New Job Offers are coming.....but they don't look as pretty as they did in years past. Pretty much everyone if they do get offered full time work will be hired on an "At Will" basis or on a Contract. Their “gig” is likely to last a few months or just a few years, not a decade as in the past. Most college grads know and expect this and that is the biggest difference I see over previous generations who really did think they were going to me able to make a lasting contribution to their firm.

These uncertainties of a “ gig-nation” make for plenty of anxiety and pressure on young people and mid life career changers. Global competition is also a factor in almost every industry today – if it is labor intensive it can probably be outsourced outside of the USA cheaper. My generation did not have to deal with the global aspects anywhere near what is taken for granted today. Young people are accustomed to this and seem much better prepared to deal with the differences in cultures, languages and parts of the world. Tolerance for differences seems deeply embedded into this generations shills. Most of us now know that these important virtual global connections can serve us well for sourcing experts and finding skills worldwide as well as our continuing education and cultural experiences.

Key Points I want to reinforce for Job Hunters:

1. Use every means possible to communicate your desired career path to activate referrals. This includes social media, on line job boards, professional organizations, certification bodies and educational/alumni associations.
2. Get good at Finding Mentors – and make it a win- win relationship. You’ll outgrow plenty of mentors over the years but keep your old contacts warm and develop new ones every years as well.
3. Referrals are like gold and people love helping others become more successful. Tap into these via the social networks and the people who love to Connect and share resources. They are out there, particularly on line.
4. Social Media is the modern day extension of the social networks of yesterday…….. with all the pluses and minuses of “networking”. Networks work. They have cultures and you can leverage their collective wisdom.
5. Most people will not do the extra work to cultivate networks, but some do and those are the ones you want to really connect with.
6. People involved in Networks (today’s lingo: Social Networks) know who the leaders are and with a few questions to a few active people you can usually find the Connectors and the Leaders of the Networks.
7. People who have spent years building this skills and professional reputations do things to stand out in the crowd, they write and publish their findings & often their opinions. Their reputations and “networks” tell more about them than you can learn in five interviews! Find your next boss by his or her reputation and let them know why you want to work with them. Real Pros love people who are discerning.
8. If a job or person looks too good to be true………they probably are. (“Let me show you how to make your million” – yeah, right, pleased save us all from the get rich quick game)
9. The best interviewers are not always the best candidates ….. interviewing and performing (execution, team work, leading etc) are not the same skill sets. Most professional recruiters know it’s essential to have a well crafted job description before you go out recruiting HUNTING for your prize candidate. Try to get a copy of the prepared job description and make a presentation about yourself which focused your strengths on their needs.
10. Do not put all your efforts/eggs in one basket. Reach out to generate sufficient job leads from a number of sources likes ads, internal and external referrals, so that you have a good choice of potential employers to talk to. Unless you have a really good reason, don’t turn down opportunities for informational interviews. Get good at your “elevator speech” and soon you’ll find yourself in the finalists category.
11. Ask for Feedback from your referral sources and places you have interviewed. Feedback is the real breakfast of champions and they utilize it well!
12. Keep your network alive after you get the job. Don’t make the mistake of having to build new bridges every time you need to look for a new job……. Don’t burn any bridges and keep your networks lubricated.


Al Walsh said...

Career Idea

My valued friend Patty DeDominic was teasing me today about being a sometime-cynic. I explained to her that I’m not a cynic by nature, but the current political/economic situation has me in near-hysteria. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see a silver lining among the storm clouds.

Here’s one for people seeking employment or a better opportunity to consider - Agriculture.

For a wide-variety of reasons, crop yields are not keeping up with need, thus placing agriculture in the position of being a growth-industry. Of course, the world population just keeps growing. Many experts think this yield-to-need shortage will continue indefinitely.

America is the world’s breadbasket, and U.S. agri-business is huge. It’s not sexy like a hi-tech company, but it’s big, it’s sophisticated, and it’s stable.

There’s agri-business all over the nation. Just consider the mammoth agricultural presence we have in California alone.

They need all of the people that other companies need – Scientists, Engineers, Executives, Managers, Accountants, Technicians, and a host of other folk.

Take a look at it. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Good Luck,

Al Walsh, CEO
Walsh Enterprises, Business Advisors
Huntington Beach, Ca

Russell said...


It was a great post on "Advice to New College Grads, What's Different in Today's Job Market?".

Here is an useful financial advice for New college graduates.

As the economic recession has gripped the world New college grads can opt for higher education. Nowdays banks are providing student loans at lower interest rates.