Grim and Grimmer

I hate to say it, but this looks to be the mother of all bad job markets. The horrific economic downturn has had two immediate effects on job seekers: first, there are fewer jobs (duh). Second, and perhaps, less obviously, Baby Boomers, who have seen their retirement savings marginalized, are sticking around much longer than anticipated. The end result? A veritable gridlock for the few available job openings.

That's a lethal combination for college seniors. Factor in the findings of a 2006 research report, and one has all the ingredients for a perfect storm.

So, what's a poor college senior to do? There's only one obvious answer: out-think the competition for the few jobs that are available. Shutterstock_9779503

Employers have the luxury of hiring only the best and brightest. So, that means they'll want someone who can convince them they'll be able to hit the ground running and make a positive, short-term impact.

How does one convince an employer that she or he is indeed "The One?"

Start by creating your own brand. Develop a point-of-view about the organizations you're targeting. Post comments on relevant blogs. Learn the business of the prospective employer's business. Familiarize yourself with its stock price and recent history. Research the biographies of senior management. If it's a publicly-traded company, memorize the names of the board of directors. And, strange as it seems, be prepared to discuss possible merger or acquisition partners that might make sense for the employer.

Last, and definitely not least, come prepared with a list of questions for the interviewer. Begin by asking what business issues are keeping him or her up at night. Ask how he or she attained their current position. Ask for a description of the type of person who succeeds in the organization and be prepared to compare some of your personal strengths with those prized by the organization.

It won't be easy. And, as the research shows, luck will factor into the equation, salaries will be lower and advancement in the ranks slowed by the recession. But, cream always rises to the top. And, if you're willing to go the extra mile, no amount of doom or gloom will keep you from reaching the pinnacle.

Let me know how you fare. And, please add to my list of suggestions. This blogger would like to help.

Thanks to Brian McGee, professor at the College of Charleston, for the idea.

3 thoughts on “Grim and Grimmer

  1. Thanks to Steve for a great blog entry, and to Stan for his good advice.
    The grim job market for communication and journalism graduates crosses many communication career paths. For those working in print journalism, see for an accounting of the 15,000-plus print journalism jobs lost so far in 2008.

  2. Repman,
    Totally agree that today’s grads will need to go the ‘extra mile’. One of the best quotes I’ve heard in the past year spoke to outsmarting the competition:
    “There are no roadblocks on the extra mile”
    Other suggestions for college graduates coming into a volatile job market.
    1. Work overseas – get some experience working abroad. Check out I did this back in ’91 and it was an experience of a lifetime.
    2. Grad school – accelerate those grad school plans. Today’s undergrad degree is the equivalent to the high school degree 30 years ago.
    3. Intern / Volunteer / Project Work – figure out what you want to do and then figure out how to get some experience doing it. Getting to know a prospective employer in a real world setting gives you a huge leg up. Understand this truism “People in life don’t know what they like . . . they like what they know”.
    Luck does play a role. As Thomas Edison once said, “I’m a great believer in luck. In fact – I find the harder I work the luckier I get”