This honest question was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook a couple of days ago. She went the traditional route, graduated from high school, and got a Bachelor’s Degree and her teaching certificate. Unable to find a job with her education, she is now going back to get a Master’s Degree hoping that will open more doors.
Just about anyone searching for a job has asked this question once or twice. How do you find a decent job when you think you’ve followed all the rules? One of her comments was the long-held idea that all you had to do was get that “piece of paper” (degree) and you could have any job you want. Maybe twenty years ago it was true, when women were trading the kitchen and diapers for a shot at a corner office and engraved business cards. Not so much anymore. There are thousands of college grads who can’t even find an entry-level management or administrative position.
Of course, her friends offered advice, consolation and some tongue-in-cheek suggestions on using her talents in other ways. Here are their suggestions and some of my own.
1. “They’re not on the Internet.” This is true and false at the same time. There are a lot of jobs posted on the Internet, and they serve to let you know that there is a position out there. With so many people vying for a job, by the time you stumble on it, there may already be hundreds of online applications lining up in someone’s email inbox.
2. “Try temp agencies and get hired full-time.” More companies are using temps for all position levels since they, too, are worried about hiring employees only to lay them off later when the economy goes south. The trouble is you could end up working for a temp agency for a long time without every going full-time. If the job isn’t really in your field or can add skills to your resume, you may be hurting yourself in the long run. Don’t let the temp agency treat you like a full-time employee. Pick your assignments and move if the job isn’t beneficial to you or your job future.
3. “The system is failing us…” To this I say, welcome to the real world. No degree or training course comes with a guarantee of a job, unless you’ve just enlisted in the military. Yes, there are fewer opportunities, but it still depends on you. Blaming someone or something for your fate never works, whether it’s a job, relationship, your health, or your situation in general.
4. “My degree will get me a job at Starbucks before someone without a degree, right?” I wouldn’t count on it. If you’ve got a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, an employer will probably decide you won’t be around very long. Once the “decent” job comes along, you’ll be out the door. Retail and food service workers need training on the job, company culture and customer service, which is a big investment of time and money. A high school grad or someone enrolled in a local college or technical school will probably be a better bet to land that job.
5. “Get your street smarts in order…” This is actually good advice. Know the company, area, and a little bit of psychology. I recently interviewed for a job and did a lot of research about the organization (public agency) and even found their salary schedule and minutes of public meetings online. I was able to weave some information about the agency into my answers, relating my skills and experience to their particular issues and policies.
Times have changed. Some jobs are gone forever. Nothing is a given anymore. A degree will satisfy some minimum requirements for jobs, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee you an interview. The decent jobs are out there, you’ve just got to work your plan and keep the faith.