May 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM

I Just Graduated and Now I Need a Job

"With hard work and the right guidance, you can find the great career you want"

By Patty Armstrong

Where’s My Great Career?

Patty Armstrong is a career counselor and educator on a mission to help people of all ages find careers they enjoy.

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A lot of college students are graduating this May. In addition to the grueling schedule of classes and homework, many have been working, full-time or part-time, and managing a family.  Exhausted, these students often decide to wait until they graduate, or maybe until after a summer of well-deserved rest, to start looking for work that uses their new education.

Once they begin looking, new graduates are often shocked they aren’t immediately finding work in their field.  Getting that great new job is going to require hard work, a competitive effort, time and patience.  That dream job may not be posted or funded yet, or you’ll need more experience under your belt before you can be considered.  Perhaps you’ll need to volunteer, get an internship, or start at a lower position in the company.  If paying the bills is pressing, you may even need to accept a job in your old field or where you are overqualified, while you continue your search until you eventually get the job you want.  And you must keep looking, not give up.

Another challenge is when graduates start their job search.  Peak job posting times in the calendar tend to conflict with when graduates are ready.  Primary hiring times are typically in April and October, the beginning of the second quarter of calendar-based or fiscal years, when a business’s new budget and funding for the year has been confirmed.  A lesser hiring peak time is January, with jobs posted in December.  At that time many people are thinking more of holidays than a job search, don’t bother to look and miss out on great opportunities. 

In the past couple of years, I’ve been surprised to even see surges in postings in July, the first month of a fiscal calendar.  I expect those have been for long-empty or direly needed positions and the new budget year finally allowed the posting.  And then there are always the surprising, great opportunities that pop up out of nowhere, at any time and are only listed for a week or two.

Graduates who have jobs waiting for them in their field after they get their diploma are people who’ve done their homework months in advance, have participated in college or university career fairs, career services workshops, and are checking employer career pages and job posting sites a minimum of once a week, before and after they graduate.  Many have also been in successful internships that gave them direct work experience that may result in a job offer or provide a great reference the student then used to get their job.

By all means, if you need to take the summer off for yourself and your family – and can afford it, then do it!  You’ll be a better job candidate, refreshed and ready to go when you start your search. But come back to your college or university career center and work with them, in January, June, August – or whenever -- where you will get help with a personalized, intelligent, well-thought out and successful job search strategy.

Too many people put in a casual effort because they don’t understand the job market and search process.  Often they don’t even know what they want to or are qualified to do.  Some are unrealistic about what they have to offer employers.  But jobs are out there.  Despite news of layoffs in some areas, the job market in Santa Fe continues to grow.  With hard work and the right guidance, you can find the great career you want.

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