To College Graduates Looking For Jobs: Stay Optimistic

I recently graduated with my B.S. Degree in Information Systems Security back in March of this year, and what a relief it was.  It was the end of long reports, long study sessions, and lab assignments.  For people who I knew during my tenure at college, it was about that time for them to look for that new job.

Somewhere during the final couple of months, or even after graduation, a fresh new graduate is filling out applications and sending out resumes in hopes to find a job within their field of study.  Unfortunately, due to the conditions of the current economic market, more and more college graduates are unable to find jobs in their acclimated field due to less hiring by companies and older, experienced workers vying for those same positions.

According to articles such as this one from USA today, employers are set to hire a higher percentage of college graduates than in 2009.  However, with the current unemployment rate at 9.7% according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fight for jobs is still going to be tough for most graduates, especially those without experience.

I personally know a couple a couple of graduates who graduated last year who went to graduate school because they could not obtain a job.  This makes me ponder the question:  Are college/universities doing enough to ensure students are prepared, or are students not making the best of their opportunities?  This question might need to be addressed in another blog post sometime in the future.

One thing that I will say right now to all college graduates currently looking for a job: Do not stress over the “statistics”, still go out and apply for jobs. What I mean by this is just because the news and the media are telling you that job opportunities might be slim pickings, do not hide in a ball and worry to death.  Still get out there and apply for the jobs you feel you are capable of obtaining.

In personal relation to this topic at hand, I will say that I am currently working in the field in Information Technology.  Back in 2007, I obtained my A.A. Degree in Network Information Systems.  Within less than two weeks of finishing school, I had a job within my field of study.  Yes, I understand that economic and job conditions have drastically changed since then, but some of the things that helped me back then can still apply to students graduating now.

Be Unique

With the increasing amount of people aiming for the same jobs as yourself, you must stay on top of the latest skills within your field.  For example, if your major is in Medicine, what are the current medical practices most needed?  If you are in the Information Technology field, what are current sought after technical skills?  If you can obtain a certification solidifying a needed skill, go for the test (and pass of course).  This tidbit of accolade could give you that needed push above the already stacked competition.

Remember: Stand out, don’t stand still.

Networking, Networking, and more Networking

I really don’t think I can stress this enough.  If you have sub-par social skills, I suggest you pick up some books, read some videos,  or socialize more often.  I know a lot of people within my field that were able to get their first jobs due to the people who already worked at the company of interest.  Some ways that you can build your professional network,

  • Conventions/Conferences pertaining to your field (NOTE:  make sure to develop/distribute business cards with your contact info.)
  • Job Fairs
  • Internet (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Professional Organizations

Readable Resumes Returns Reliable Results

Please make sure your resume is legible and easy to comprehend.  I can’t tell you how many people I know have lost job opportunities due to an unreadable resume.  Proofread your resume…two and three times over.  Include keywords that pertain to the job that you’re targeting.

Hiring managers don’t have much time to waste.  Trust me:  badly composed resume = lost opportunity.

The one thing I definitely want to get across is that you must go out and seize the opportunity, or you’ll most likely be left in the dust.  Do not wait for a job to land in you lap regardless of your college achievements.  Most importantly, do not panic, stay optimistic.

Customer Service or Customer Frustration?

Image taken from Techreaders.com

Note: I know this topic has been done probably around a million times, but I just want to add my two cents.

I remember when I was 15 years old and I worked my first “real” job as a part-time waiter.  No, not a restaurant, but at a retirement home.   I will admit that at the time, I was very shy and barely allowed people who I did not know get close to me.  However, as time went by (approximately two and a half years later), I realized that I can make working at my job enjoyable along with providing good customer service to those who I served.  I got the chance to learn about other people’s lives, which made me more comfortable to express my life to them in return.  I now get a rewarding feeling being about to help out other people, whether it is at the job or away from the job.  I want people to feel that their experience was worth it.

I left the retirement home and my job serving retirees a couple of years ago to pursue my career in Information Technology.  As I start going to a lot of different places, I noticed that there is usually one constant thing lacking each and every time: customer service.  What do I mean by this?   I mean the amount of workers who tend to give you funny looks anytime you ask them a question regarding their products.  I mean the amount of workers who take an appalling amount of time to serve you, dragging their feet like they don’t have other customers waiting in line.  I mean the workers who can’t even at least say “thank you” or “have a nice day” as you are able to leave.  I can’t recall all the times where I would say either one of these two things, and I would get tight-lipped expressions in return.

In my personal experiences, without making a generalized statement, I noticed that most of the poor customer service has come from the younger crowd: teenagers and even young adults.  Even as I write this blog, I tend to think to myself:  Why does the quality of customer service seem to differentiate between different age groups?  Is it the lack of face-to-face interaction that younger people seem to suffer from compared to their elders?  Is it the lack of training provided by the employer?  Is it the person in general?  There are many different factors that can be attributed to customer service, or the lack of.

One thing that I will say in defense of customer service is that there are some out-of-line customers who seem to mess it up for the rest of the customers.  One quote that I will always live by is, “Treat people how you want to be treated.”  If you tend to treat the employee like dirt, well expect to get treated like dirt in return.  I was taught that no matter how out of line the customer is, still treat the customer with respect because it’s still the customer.  Even in the case of the belligerent customer, it’s still unprofessional to provide bad service in return.  However, don’t be that customer that sends the employee over their tolerance threshold.

I understand that some employees, no matter the age, gender, or race, do not interact with people well at all.  In response to this, those employees must make one of  two decisions:  either improve their soft skills or find another job where customer service is not salient.  Well, guess what the problem with that is?  Many companies are putting an emphasis on customer service going into 2010.  On a general basis, bad customer service = unhappy customer = loss of company profit and reputation.  With jobs the way they are now, employees with lacking customer skills better improve, or risk losing their own job in the process to someone who can provide positive customer interaction.