While there is never a complete guarantee of job security or a recession-proof job in a tight economy, this isn’t the first time students have graduated during an economic recession. In July 1990 and in March of 200s, the United States faced a recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (sources listed at end of article). Even so, a fair number of new MBAs and other graduates were able to find jobs. Their experience can help others facing this latest recession do the same.
During previous economic recessions, new graduates who didn’t panic, thought creatively, were flexible and made the most of networking skills were able to find jobs -even – yes, even during a recession. If they could do it, so can other graduates.
The best job hunting strategies for new graduates during a recession: don’t necessarily wait for the right job to come along immediately
Those who’ve completed their college educations and are ready to find jobs during a recession may also be saddled with students loans. Yes, this isn’t an ideal situation. That is when finding a job can be a priority. An MBA may want to get a specific job but find that the competition is fierce. This may be the time to consider alternatives, cut back on the expenses and come up with alternative strategies.
One helpful move for new grads trying to find a job during a recession: consider moving back in with the parents -temporarily
Don’t think of this as a step backwards. It can be a very wise way of regrouping, finding focus and saving money. New grads who feel like this is too much of a burden on parents can find ways to help cut costs for parents by taking on yard work, cooking meals, doing laundry and generally helping around the house. In the meantime, they can avoid the cost of a new place, an uncertain economy and also get some breathing room to find a job. If there is a way to start paying back student loans, this might be the ideal time to do that.
Consider taking a job which is a stepping stone to a better job while job hunting during a recession
This can be an ideal strategy for new graduates who want to find a job and get out on their own. Contrary to grim predictions, there are pockets of jobs in various cities. One burgeoning area may be working at a school as a teacher’s aide or even as a consultant in education. Our own son tried this strategy and snared a full-time job, with benefits, after a trial run. He is about to enter graduate school but he got that job before that through tenacity, being willing to do a trial run first and making himself indispensable. He was willing to do work that other teachers considered boring or dull. That other work still came with a paycheck, however, and being paid was one of his goals. Building his resume was another.
Never discount the value of the smallest networking connection
An offhand comment to a former teacher helped our son snare his job in education. Former graduates who’ve gotten jobs during a recession say that it may be a mistake to rely on career placement services. Instead, using friends, family and college peers can be a better way to survive the job hunting process during a recession. Does it really matter if that first job comes along because a friend puts in a good word for you with an employer? Odds are, you’ll either keep the job – or not -based on the skills you bring along.
Smart college grads, from those with Bachelor’s Degrees to MBAs, find jobs that need to be filled – and fill them.
Examples of seeing a need and finding a job during a recession? How about an aging or elderly person who needs a driver? How about a job at a temporary agency? What about offering some consulting services, on spec (a trial run before getting hired)? Some new grads even work two or three jobs in tight economic times as they hone their resumes and keep going to interviews in their spare time. Instead of getting discouraged, they treat the process as a challenging game. They remain optimistic and that attitude may also help. They also pay attention to what people need or don’t have time to do themselves…and fill that gap.
Another recession-proof job strategy: find a job that pays well and helps Baby Boomers and sandwich generation populations
I know there is a need here because I hired a part-time driver this summer to help get my son to his various activities while I was working on other things. This would have been a perfect job for a new graduate, especially one living at home and honing a resume or going to job interviews. Other industrious students have tutored elementary and middle school students for as much money per hour as they’d have made at their dream job – or close. Hard to believe? Maybe but many desperate parents want help for their struggling students. Even when they cut back on other things, they”ll often find a way to pay for tutors.
I’m not suggesting any new grads price gouge parents but there is an opportunity to create a job working with busy parents, all while hunting for the dream job to come along.
Be clear about your skills as a new grad hunting for a job during a recession
Now – more than ever- new graduates have to be direct about what they can offer employers. Important skills include such things as being bilingual, having unexpected work experience that could help your employer (typing quickly, working well under deadlines, being a team player) and going beyond the norm in terms of handling stress and keeping employers happy. Many graduates have valuable skills that go unrecognized because they don’t think to mention them.
Bottom line – even though no economy is recession proof, it may still be quite possible for new grads to find a job an get through a recession
There are plenty of options. Moving in with the parents may be one temporary step and handling two or three part-time jobs may be another. Creating a job or working as a consultant or in an unrelated field may also be ways to get paid and stay financially afloat until the dream job comes along.
1.National Bureau of Economic Research: www.nber.org/cycles.html
2. Personal Experience
3. BusinessWeek: Job Hunting Tips and career counselor chat about the current job market: April 8, chat transcript: www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/apr2008/bs2008048_052400.htm