Unemployment Rate Increase – What Does It Mean for Recent Graduates?

copac-luminat-dimineata-devreme-gradina-botanica-anastaise-fatu-iasi-morning-light-on-a-tree-from-the-botanical-garden-of-iasi-october-2009One interesting question was asked by the Forbes panel yesterday:
“What does the recent jump in the unemployment rate (to 10,2%, as reported by the US Bureau of Statistics) mean for the recent college graduates and others entering the job market for the first time in this employment climate? What would you counsel them?”
It is a provocative question, since we live in a challenging economic environment. And it looks quite difficult to be optimistic when the US companies continue to reduce their payrolls by limiting the number of the new employees and reducing those with the lowest company service years.
Yet, the crisis would not last forever. Yes, this is my first advice, similar to the Bible adagio – “Be always ready.” The turnaround is closer than you might think. 6 months might look like an eternity when you are unemployed and have very slim chances to get your dream job, yet these months might pass very quickly. And the best you can do is to prepare yourself.
Easy. Make something meaningful. Look at yourself from the outside. What would you like to view if you would be an employer trying to hire somebody like you? This external look will determine your strengths (on which you can build) and of course your weaknesses (which you should try to improve). For example, if you are a computer programmer, try to learn new skills. Try a new programming language. Or try to set up a website to sell your work. DO SOMETHING!

1. My first advice would be to invest in your education
It is an incredible competitive world out there, especially since the crisis has increased the ranks of the unemployed. There is a higher number of people competing for the same job, therefore the employers have more choices. Thus, you have to be more competitive. So get a boost in your image – try new trainings, enroll for a new degree in the local university, attend workshops in your area of interest. Most of these are free or subsidized by the state. Some of these education forms can be easily financed via low cost loans. Try to se what has become for their graduates and if it sounds Ok, get in the boat too.

2.Do something new

You have a lot of time on your hands, so why not trying something new? The risk is low to screw it up and you might be realizing that you gained a lot. Start your own business – it is quite easy and it usually does not involve a lot of resources, unless you want to build a computers factory. Sell something – be it your skills, a product you like or a service from some other companies. Teach others English. Or dance lessons, if you are good at this.  Do not be afraid, you live in the most advanced economy of the world. In the US the need for services is incredible, from dog walking to the beauty sessions. And there are lots of things to be done.

3. Be patient

It is important to remind yourself that this is an environment which no one has ever seen, not even your grand parents. The crisis we live is unprecedented and of course it will take some time to unwind. Until then, be patient. Take a deep breath each morning and try to make the best of the day. Or of the week. Or of the months. These actions might take a while to get you to a tangible point, but after a while you will notice some results. And then, one day, the crisis will be over. And you will be better prepared.

4. Consider relocation

Think about relocating yourself in a different area of the country. Or, why not, internationally. There are countries out there which might need your help. And if it is a voluntary work, you might have the time of your life helping others to achieve their potential. Think about it – you might never have the time to do such good things again. And there are people out there who need you.

5. Re-qualify

The crisis changes the priorities of the companies. All of a sudden the glamour of the investment banking profession is gone. No one needs any more super trooper graduates who can crunch hundreds of numbers per second. This is why we have computers for. But they will always need accountants who know how to trim costs. Got the idea? Try to see what is the new focus of the companies and re-brand yourself. If you are an excellent sales man for corporate servers, try the laptops. If you are a doctor, then you are lucky, you will be always in need somewhere (see the previous point). And if you are a computer programmer, learn Java and move your business online. And these are just a few examples which some to my mind now. It is easy – look at the press and job announcements of the companies, read the interviews of their executives and learn their language. And yes, do something meaningful for those tax payers. This will be certainly rewarded.

Yes, we are living tough times. Yet, most of the US jobs we see today have been created in the last 2 decades or so. The ability of the US economy depends on the flexibility of its workforce. You are part of it, so show it off. Be flexible. Succeed. And if you did it, I would be EXTREMELY happy to hear your story. Good luck!

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