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.
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.