It seems like we’re bombarded with news of how bad the economy is at every turn: college grads are finding it harder than ever to land a well-paying career after graduation, needing months and months before something — anything — pops up. The flagging economy and government reactions have caused the divide between upper and lower classes to widen, and the middle class to shrink. As a result, recent college grads tend to either be underemployed (e.g. working at a coffee shop) or spend months of unemployment. How bad is it? Let’s take a look at five essential facts college grads need to brief themselves on.
How Long Does It Take College Grads to Get a Job?
College graduates need between 3 to 9 months to land a decent job after they graduate, and it’s definitely not the kind of thing that happens when you snap your fingers. For the reasons we mentioned above (widening gap between upper and lower classes, shrinking middle classes, sluggishly recovering economy), finding a job not only in your related field, but one that pays well, too, is a very trying task.
Now, the trend is to work from the bottom up and spend months, if not years, on finessing the necessary skills and experience required to finally crack into that career. We’re past the days when a college grad would start working right away and make enough money to support a family, so let’s read on to learn what the college grads of today need to know.
1. No Job is Ever Beneath You
A common refrain of college grads is that because they have a degree, they’re too good, educated or qualified to work menial labor jobs, like Starbucks, McDonald’s, or as a cleaner. They’re not. There’s not a single inch of space on your college degree or diploma that forbids you from working these kinds of jobs, and says you’re only meant to work a specific category of work. If the work is honest, contributes taxes to the economy, and is physically within your means, then it’s a job you should not be turning your nose up at. It may not be exactly what you had in mind for yourself, but remember that billions of people in the world would kill to be in your position. Plus, it’s up to you to spin the skills you learned as a cleaner or waiter into ones employers want to hear (e.g. communication, sales, marketing, etc.).
2. Every Day is an Opportunity to Hone Your Skills
Hiring managers are looking for job candidates that are ready to step into the position right away, not ones that need a few months to fine-tune their knowledge and skills. Are you a job seeker who’s decided to take a few months or a year off after college before searching for a job? The New York Times reports that this could put you at a serious disadvantage in landing a job. What they, and the senior vice president of a talent agency they talked to, recommend is for college graduates and job seekers to be “keeping themselves meaningfully busy.”
3. Your Loans Can Wait Until You Get a Job
We’re definitely not advising that you ignore the calls and letters you receive about your student loans, but rather be proactive about handling them. If you’re working full-time at minimum wage, having expenses like rent, food and bills, then you’re not really in a position to be paying a couple hundred down each month on your student loans. It’ll only put you deeper in the hole, leaving you constantly stressed and frustrated. And if you’re living on the edge all the time, how are you supposed to have the poise and confidence to wow an interviewer? Instead, look at deferring your loans until you’re more financially stable.
4. Networking is a Necessity, Not an Option
You’ve heard countless times just how important networking is, and it’s especially true for recent college grads. One of the distinct advantages that already employed people have over you (other than having a job) is they have the benefit of talking to people on a professional basis every day at work. You don’t, and networking is one of the most important ways you can achieve this. Talk to fellow students, professors, family and friends — the six degrees of separation means something can eventually pan out. And as a side thought: even chat up your barista, because you never know who knows who.
5. Your First Job Probably Won’t be Your Last Job
About 60% of college graduates stay in their first “real” job less than two years for an average of about a year and a half. It’s highly, highly unlikely that you’ll be landing your dream job the second you receive your college degree; the odds are about the same as winning a decent prize in the lottery. Instead, recognize that the trend today is to use jobs as stepping-stones until you can leverage your way into a “dream” job, and build up from there.