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New Grads: Drop the Self-Pity and Pick up Strategy


New Grads: Drop the Self-Pity and Pick up StrategyYear after year popular media finds yet another story of a recent grad who months (or even years) post-grad continues working in a job with part-time hours, little responsibility or opportunity, and even less pay. These young adults, faced with paying back student loans, feel stuck in a job that requires little (if any) of their hard-earned knowledge, and after a few years of this kind of work, rather than a job that is specific to their studies they remain stuck.

Why do they resign to this fate? Popular rants cite no jobs, and lack of experience; true wisdom asserts problem solve with strategy. Our libraries are rich with career-building texts, the internet positively explodes with information, and yet, the doomsayers outshout practical information.

Whatever the reason for unsuccessful job hunts, some simple problem solving, a skill honoured in academia that is perhaps not applied often enough in real-life situations, can turn failure into success.

Defining Strategy
Strategy is a word of military origin. According to Wikipedia it is concerned with linkages and an ultimate goal. Here is a short version of the definition: strategy is a comprehensive way to pursue a goal, where there are two sides to the conflict; a strategy is rarely successful if it shows no adaptability. Today the application of strategy extends to many fields, including business.
Applying Strategy
The linkages between the job hunter and an employer are straightforward: unemployed person needs a job, employer needs someone to solve specific problems. It is the word adaptability that is key in this case, as many job hunters seem to remain stuck in a revolving door. If mailing the same old resume hasn’t worked 100 times, why would the next 100 work? Perhaps the new grad assumes too much – that parents gave good advice, that the career office had enough time to provide adequate support, or that a colleague’s resume, which was copied, was any good at all?
Strategic Tactics
It would be best to conduct career management self-study with texts written by long-time career practitioners, i.e. people with wisdom earned in recruitment trenches. They know the truth: job hunting is hard work! It is not as simple as sending resumes to job postings. The best job hunt is focused on a specific role, targets suitable employers, takes research, writing, calling, networking, questioning, and getting dressed up and out from behind the computer, along with many more tactics.
Online Resources
Joining LinkedIn (akin to a professional version of Facebook) and some of its many groups is unavoidable for the young professional. Chosen strategically, groups from a geographic area as well as from the profession can provide useful ideas and support. Also, joining HR or Recruiter groups and reading their public conversations will provide valuable insight into the hiring process. Members can also post their own questions – what an incredible resource!

New grads, even those with no co-op or related experience, absolutely do land career-related jobs. It takes time, determination, and yes, an emphasis on strategy.


– submitted by Stephanie Clark, Awarded Best New Graduate Resume, Career Professionals of Canada Awards of Excellence, 2008 and 2010

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