What a difference a few college years makes. Not long ago, you were a freshman with fears about clogged course loads, psycho roommates and the mythic freshman 15. Now, you’re graduating and job hunting. You still have fears, but they’re more consequential.
Here are some of those top fears about entering the job market, plus tips for overcoming them.
I won’t find a job. First, the bad news. Job searching takes time, so you’re better off beginning your hunt many months before the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” begin to play. According to Paul McDonald, senior executive director of the specialized staffing firm Robert Half International, it’s a numbers game – the more you apply and interview, the greater your chances of finding a job you want. “Job search the way you would study for an exam or work on a paper that’s due, and devote an hour or so to it each day,” he says. “Don’t wait until the last minute to begin cramming.”
But breathe easy; there’s also good news. Graduates from a bevy of fields should have bright job prospects. The Labor Department reports an unemployment rate of just over 3 percent in April for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher and highlights job creation in the professional and business services sector, as well as health care, retail and wholesale trade. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ annual job outlook report, employers expect to hire 7.8 percent more graduates from the class of 2014 than they did from the previous graduating class. They’re particularly looking for graduates who studied business, engineering, computer and information science, general science and communications.
I will find a job. The flip side of the No. 1 fear. Working full time means responsibility. Bills. Adulthood. It’s appropriate to feel scared. “It’s really important for graduates to remember they’re not alone in this process or in that fear,” says Rachel A. Brown, assistant provost for career services at George Washington University. She recommends leaning on a support system in this transition. “Continuing support from your peers as well as your university after graduation is really important,” she says. “You’re experiencing things for the first time. It can be helpful to speak with alumni who was in the same position as you just two years ago.”
I’m not qualified for the jobs I want. Consider this: “Everyone has this idea in their head that there’s a perfect job with a perfect company, and you’re going to travel a perfect career path,” McDonald says. “But there aren’t any jobs that will be a perfect fit. Most likely, there’s going to be a skills gap for everyone at any level.”
Don’t focus on your deficits. Instead accentuate the relevant skills and experience you do have. “Apply for the jobs where you can realistically grow and train to learn what you lack,” McDonald says.
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