Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Naked Truth About Job Search for Soon to be Grads

The Naked Truth About Job Search for Soon to be Grads
Burton Jay Nadler
Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center Director

In grimmest (pun intended) versions of the fairytale, those who did not recognize the sartorial splendor of the emperor were put to death.  Until a naïve and unknowingly brave young man revealed the royal’s regalia was in reality way too revealing.  By honestly sharing that his sovereign was in fact naked, the youth was rewarded with a place in court, rather than forced to wear the hangman’s noose. Today’s job seeking soon-to-be college graduates deserve truthful step-by-step coaching, rather than faux compliments and philosophical ego primping dream job drivel.  Grim (no pun, just adjectivally accuracy) economic and unemployment realities require clear and honest strategies (hey that rhymes).

Those with resumes and search campaigns too small to cover strategic areas will be more than embarrassed by outcomes of their efforts.  Those who parade pompously promoting unrealistic goals, conducting social networking rather than field, function and firm focused outreach will, like the emperor, remain the butt of jokes (another pun, oh my) not the empowered rulers of their job search domain. The author of this piece, a career counselor and job search coach, and your Career and Internship Center director, balancing bravado, humor, and behavioral reinforcement hopes to inspire actions as well as affect of readers over the next weeks, months, and well beyond.

The metaphorical mirror of honest self-reflection will inspire proper alterations of job search wardrobes and empower readers to access resources and act with goal directed focus. In today’s job search economy, the number of college graduates dramatically exceeds the number of jobs targeting bachelor degree recipients, especially those who cannot express field, function and firm focused goals. So, more than ever, it is critical that candidates express goals and that they have completed at least one, if not two pre-commencement internships and, in many cases, the same number of post-baccalaureate internships.    Because we anticipate continued challenges related to supply and demand gap of jobs versus graduates, I encourage you to follow reality based and proven effective strategy detailed below.

The Naked Truth is, that as you commence during challenging times....

Become and stay focused, and project focus through targeted job search documents! Be articulate when expressing goals in field, function and firm contexts.  Be able to cite what you want to do, and where you want to do it (geographically and functionally).  With goals expressed, you can implement reactive (responding to postings) as well as proactive (self-initiated contacts with firms as well as targeted networking) actions.   Do not fear focus. Embrace it!  And, definitely project goals through targeted, not multi-purpose resumes, cover letters, networking notes and other crucial communiqués.

Use a “hybrid” post-bac internship and full-time job search strategy!  Seek internships as actively as full-time positions. When communicating, include phrases like “Perhaps after completion of a summer internship my performance would be evaluated and I would be considered for a full time paid position?” and “While enthusiastic about and qualified for this entry-level position, if determined more appropriate, please consider me for a paid or unpaid internship.”   Explore and apply for fee based internship programs. Investing in summer or fall options to enhance skills and increase marketability when others are “just looking.”   No matter the cost, programs including Dream Careers (, Washington Center for Internships (, Masa Israel ( and IES (, your investment will pay off.  

Complete at least two goal-focused courses over summer and Fall!   While most are relieved (understatement) to think you are done with school for a while, it is critical during these times that you complete at least two courses during the summer, or during the time job search continues.  Courses must focus on specific job search targets and related skills. These curricular steps can be giant leaps towards desired employment or grad school destinations.

Volunteer! While looking for a job or waiting to hear from or enroll in graduate school, serve as a “volunteer intern” in settings related to goals.  Yes, financial realities do necessitate a search for salary.  But, while you are actively seeking desired employment or educational goals, volunteer to enhance chances of finding a paid internship or job.

Seek support of family, friends and resources at your alma mater!  This includes financial, emotional, and job search support. Everyone must be realistic about how long job search takes during “difficult times.”  Share clear and realistic goals with family, faculty, friends and others. Networking means: “state goals, then seek consideration, advice referrals, education, and support.” Yes, state your goals then call upon someone who CARES to help. Networking is ineffective if you cannot state goals. And, most important, visit the brick and mortar Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center in 302 Meliora Hall often and find a counselor who can be a coach, mentor, and advocate; starting today and commencing until you are successful! We are open in the summer and, most important, will always be your Career and Internship Center.

The Emperor's New Clothes is actually a Hans Christian Andersen tale about tailors who promise the emperor clothes invisible to those unfit for their positions or incompetent. When he parades before his subjects, either believing all appropriate for their positions, or seeking to identify those less then worthy by shocked expressions, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"  Tricked by tailors about a suit he believed invisible to those unfit for their social status or incompetent for courtly roles, the Emperor learned lessons of honesty, not competence for employment.   Honestly, I hope this essay enhances job search confidence and competence and empowers you to live happily employed forever after.  Please us our services and our resources.  Meliora.

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