“Why Can’t I Get Traction On My Job Search”

To get some traction on your post-college job search, you need to get clear about your starting point. If you want to end up among the group of new grads who actually have good jobs this June, check your current emotional state when it comes to a full-time job. Where are you today?

  • Just beginning to think about getting a job
  • In denial because I don’t want college to end and getting a job looks impossible.
  • Panicked or frustrated because I don’t know what to do.
  • Already taking action and anxious to make more progress on my search.
  • Frustrated and depressed because I’ve already graduated and can’t find a job I like.

You have classmates and friends in each of these categories, and that’s okay. But it’s not okay to stay there. As one famous career coach likes to say, “What got you here won’t get you there.” You’ve got to start doing things differently. For starters, take the three steps below.

  1. Set a specific goal for when you want to have a full-time job after graduating. At graduation? End of the summer? By next Christmas? As soon as possible? Are you taking into account how long your job search will probably take? Assume at least three to six months these days, unless you have a degree that’s in high demand, like computer science or nursing.
  2. Decide when you’re going to start a serious, organized job-search process, including the steps we’ll talk about in this blog. It may be winter of senior year, or not until after graduation. It’s up to you. But don’t kid yourself. The longer you delay, the more time after graduation you’ll spend feeling frustrated and answering those annoying questions from your parents’ friends.
  3. Have a conversation with your parents to make sure they have a realistic understanding of the challenges you face in finding a good job. They’re probably more anxious than you realize about your job prospects. (Or maybe they’ve already made it painfully clear how concerned they are!) But your parents don’t necessarily know how to help you.

Have a conversation with them using the key points in my post “Why is Finding a Job After College So Tough?”  so they understand this is not the job market they once knew. You’re not trying to upset them, but you need to set their expectations. A lot of tactics that worked for them in their past job searches are useless today. 

For example, don’t bother submitting your resume cold to a big company where you have no contacts. You’ll have more fun wasting time on a video game or watching another episode of The Bachelor. However, other tactics such as networking, are still extremely valuable. Your parents can probably help you there.

The bottom line is that wherever you are in your job search is okay. But it’s not okay to keep doing the same old stuff -- or nothing! You’ve got to change things up. What action can you take today to get started? Try the three steps above.