A letter to College Grads: The “Endless Summer” has ended
Dear Young Professional,
For many of you, your job hunt is well underway. Whether you are a new graduate or a young professional with some experience under your belt, you have been actively searching for the perfect job. The average starting salary for new college grads is up by 7.8%. Your resume is crisp and includes the important buzz words for your industry and ideal position. Your LinkedIn profile is bursting with connections and endorsements from several professionals.
Others of you, however, have yet to hit the pavement because you’ve spent the last few months hitting the beach instead. As the sun sets on another summer, you know it’s time to kick your job search into high gear because your resume needs updating and you can’t even remember your LinkedIn password.
As a seasoned professional as well as the Founder and President of an executive career management and recruiting firm, I’d like to give you some advice. Searching for a job has evolved into a complicated endeavor. The days of solely on large job boards have come and gone. A productive job search includes both online and offline networking, and differentiating yourself from the crowd. In many ways, looking for a job is a job. Here’s what I recommend to enhance your search.
1. Develop your unique personal branding: In a market such as this, it is easy to broaden your personal branding to show that you are open to a variety of industries and ideal jobs. While flexibility is important (we will visit this in a bit) being “all things to all people” does not make you a better hire. It is important for you to identify your Professional DNA (Drive, Niche and Accomplishments) in order to promote your unique brand. Simply put, what unique value do you bring to a hiring company?
2. Have reasonable expectations: While everyone wants a job with flexible hours, a casual corporate culture, a community-minded mission and a $50k salary, few professionals find the “perfect job” right out of the gate. In fact, less than 30% of workers land their dream job, or work in some related field, according to a LinkedIn survey of about 8,000 professionals. Having reasonable expectations allows for more job satisfaction.
3. Broaden your search: Some professionals focus on finding their ideal job, while others look for their ideal industry or location. Although it is important to develop your personal branding to highlight your strengths, your skills are useful in many different areas. While you may dream of working for a specific company, recognizing that there might be several steps on the path that will lead you to your ultimate goal, will allow you to entertain a variety of options. Expect your first couple positions to build your resume and provide you with the experience that will get you on your way to that perfect job. A 2012 longitudinal study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that most professionals will hold 11.3 jobs between the ages of 18 to 46.
4. Leverage ALL of your connections: While no one wants to get a job because his dad’s friend hired him as a favor, reaching out to the people your parents or other seasoned professionals know is an excellent place to invest your networking time. These individuals are most likely to return your calls or emails and even agree to meet in person. Because of their experience, they are some of the best- connected people you will encounter, sometimes introducing you to people who might have the inside track on job openings and even those who do the hiring!
Few people enjoy the job search process, simply because it feels like a job in and of itself- and one without pay no less! However, there are many things you can do to make the process less painful and more successful. Identifying your unique branding, and developing reasonable expectations will set a strong foundation for a successful search. Recognizing there are many steps leading to your “perfect job” will compel you to consider a wider array of positions. Lastly, leveraging your connections and the connections of those you are closest to, will take the guesswork out of networking and provide the opportunity for warm connections rather than cold calls and emails. And as the endless summer comes to its inevitable close, you can enter this next season ready to hit the ground running.
Founder & President
TurningPoint Executive Search
About the Authors
Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).
Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.