Recent signs that the economy has slowed, yet again, can be seen in the May 2012 employment data. The MarketWatch Economic Report: U.S. economy creates 69,000 jobs in May , states the, “May 2012, unemployment rate rises to 8.2% from 8.1%,” marking the first increase during the passed 11 months. Prior to May, economists had high hopes of lowering the unemployment rate; economists had estimated the creation of 150,000 jobs this passed May. However, the U.S. economy created 69,000 last month.
But have no fear. Jobs are here?
Even with 12.5 million unemployed Americans, employers in certain markets are struggling to fill jobs. Tara Kelly of the Huffington Post reports a list of the top 10 hiring professions. I’ve listed these professions below along with the corresponding average salaries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But I do wonder whether employers in these markets are struggling to fill positions because of a lack of a talent or because qualified professionals refuse to accept positions for lower salaries. Hrm…
"Skilled trades" [This title is too ambiguous to find its avg salary]
IT Staff: 35k
Sales Reps: 60k
Accounting & Finance Staff: 36k
Machinists/Machine Operators: 40k
Teachers: 25k - 80k [elementary to post secondary]
You must be thinking, “I’m not qualified to fill any of these positions!” Well, you do have other options which don’t involve pursuing further training/education. According to Reuters, the service sector has seen its 29th straight month of expansion. So, if all else fails, take comfort in knowing you can always find a job in, “Retail, construction, financial services, health care and hotels.” Or, you can try to sell your plasma.
“As someone who majored in elementary education and graduated four years ago I would just like to say…yeah right. Education was declared the “recession proof industry” and I can tell you for certain that it is not. When the value of everything else starts going down, money for education starts to dry up and all of a sudden the jobs disappear. While being involved in education, even as a paraprofessional, has been incredibly fulfilling, I hope people going into it are there for the right reason. Don’t do it because you think your chances at getting a job are better. Do it because you want to better society and work with a group of people (I’m talking the students and adult peers) who are amazing.”—Heidi Reads YA: Newsweek: The 13 Most Useful* College Majors (As Determined By Science) (via newsweek)
I received a rejection letter from the San Francisco based service networking organization TaskRabbit, and I must say, “Being rejected never felt this good.” Honestly, I’m just happy to have received a response. And, in this case, I attribute the success of hearing back to the creativity of my application submission. Knowing that founder, Leah Busque, often keeps her dog at HQ, I mailed my resume to their SF office with a handful of home made dog treats (in hopes her dog would sniff out my resume).
Of the dozens of companies I’ve applied to, only a few have replied to my applications: TaskRabbit, DropBox and LivingSocial. Never hearing back is among the most frustrating parts of the job application process. I mean, I’d rather not get a job because I’m not qualified for the position than because my application was never reviewed. But the sad truth is the majority of applications submitted will never be read due to the high volume of applications most companies receive per position.
I sat next to a former Wells Fargo recruiter on a recent red eye flight from Los Angeles to Denver. Other than his love for Tim Tebow, he had some insightful opinions! He remarked,
"If a company doesn’t list an open position in your field, apply anyway."
While working at Wells Fargo, he would receive enormous amounts of applications. He recalled receiving 200+ applications per day for a single position. Not knowing how to handle the horrendously high volume, he decided to take a sampling from each applicant pool. For instance, he would read 1 of every 100 applications. This was especially depressing to hear because this means I have a better chance of…
Essentially, at least with Wells Fargo, this sampling method works because recruiters aren’t looking for “The One”, per se, but are just looking for someone who is good enough. After a third 3am bloody mary, he also told me,
"If I had it my way, I wouldn’t post jobs at all. The people who really want to work for the company will apply anyway."
Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your department.
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.
Despite Whitson’s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.
To stay competitive and edge out competition in the job market, us recent grads need to use whatever strengths we can to stand out among the masses. For instance, we can use social media like it’s nobody’s business (pun intended. #sueme if you don’t like it). Who knew those thousands of hours procrastinating would actually pay off?
Increasing numbers of companies are using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool. Even Facebook & Twitter are used as supplemental background checks. And although the social norm is to delete your accounts or change your name during the job search process, it’s beneficial to keep your accounts active. It’s better to have a profile that looks professional than to not have a profile at all. Besides, your accounts can make your personality stand out in a way your resume cannot.
Here are four solid ways to use the interwebs for professional development:
LinkedIn The belief “Finding a job is all about who you know” is fairly accurate — there is (arguably) nothing more valuable than a personal introduction to the company you’re applying to. LinkedIn can help you set up personal introductions. For every company you apply to, check LinkedIn to see if you have any 1st or 2nd connections with the organization. LinkedIn also facilitates the application process by allowing you to apply for certain jobs with one click. An increasing amount of companies are adopting the “Apply with LinkedIn” feature which enables the applicant to pull information directly from her LinkedIn account to post on the company’s job board. An example of this can be found on Pinterest.
I’ll write more in depth about LinkedIn in a future post.
Facebook According to a recent Nielsen Report, the average user spends 8 hours a month just on Facebook. Current college freshmen reported using FB 3+ hours a week. We’ve been training ourselves to navigate through social networking sites on a level that doesn’t come naturally for most professionals.
Further, having a polished, professional Facebook can work to your advantage. Cleaning up these pages is a great way to market yourself and make you stand out in the applicant pool, especially in comparison to those who are trying to hide. Spending a day refining your About Me, cleaning your photos, and deleting past questionable posts can go a long way.
And when you’ve finished polishing your account, make sure to use FB’s “View As” feature located on your profile page. This feature lets you conveniently see what your public profile looks.
Finally, a few words of wisdom from my brother-in-law, Brian Lee, “On the same note, make sure that any “questionable” content is private (drinking, doing anything particularly stupid, anything political or inflammatory).”
More about Facebook will come in a later post.
Twitter An active Twitter account tells employers that you’re outgoing and are familiar with community development. To save space in this post, I’ve only briefly touched on the multitude of ways Twitter can help your job hunt. I’ll continue this conversation in another post. #pinkypromise
Landing Pages And when you’re done updating all of your social media profiles, it’s time to create a landing page. This is an optional step towards completing your online identity. Essentially, including all of your social networking sites and a short summary of yourself on one centralized page allows for higher SEO.
Google All those times you used Google instead of academic databases (i.e. - Lexis Nexis, JSTOR, et al.) may have given you a leg up in the professional world. However, a 2-year study of student research, The Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries, indicates that college students aren’t fully utilizing search engines as research tools. Cross-check your skills with the report. What you find may be surprising.
Here are links to my main profiles: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Please give me feedback! I’d love to hear how you think I should improve my public image; I’m constantly trying to grow.
My last bit of advice in this post is to marry all of your accounts together. Yes, polygamy is encouraged in the social media world. Connecting your social media accounts is easy to set up and allows you to push information to your different audiences from a singular account. 3rd-party applications like HootSuite and TweetDeck help you manage multiple accounts.
Final note: Malcolm Gladwell reminds us in his book, Outliers, that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of working on a task before mastering it. Assuming that you’ve spent 3 hours a week for the past 10 years (let’s be honest, this is a very conservative estimate for most of us…) using Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, then you’ve already spend approximately 1,500 hours using social media — you’re well on your way to becoming a social media master!
This blog is devoted to recording my current job search experiences in hopes of helping other recent grads (and future recent grads) land interviews and full time positions. In the process, I’m also hoping to highlight some cool companies. I may not be an expert in finding jobs, but I am very experienced in failing in hilarious ways. Please feel free to learn from my mistakes.
I graduated from St. Olaf College spring of 2011 with degrees in Philosophy and China Studies. After months of writing applications, traveling for interviews and attending job fairs, I was lucky enough to find a full time position as a Marketing Manager for the Labor Arbitration Institute, a Minnesota-based legal education company. But now I’ve decided to pursue a career outside of the cozy midwest. SO, four months form now, June 2012, I’ll be ending my contract with LAI to be an Instructor / Residential Advisor for Exploration Summer Programs in Connecticut. BUT with no plans after these upcoming 2 months with Explo, I’m in fear of joining the thousands of currently unemployed recent grads. But seriously… I’m in dire need of finding a job (like whoa!). I don’t think Poppa Chang would let me live unemployed at home in South Barrington, IL…