Landing That First Job

Question from the editors of Forbes:

Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a jump in the unemployment rate to 10.2%.Some economists think we could be looking at 10.5% by early next year. 

Given these grim forecasts, how do you counsel recent college graduates and others entering the job market for the first time in this employment climate? Is there any advice or strategies you find particularly useful?


My advice is to be enthusiastic.  You have youth on your side, so use it.  An interviewer early in my career said to me that I lacked experience, but if he decided that he wanted an accountant full of piss and vinegar, he’d call me.  I wrote off the interview and actually took another job.  I was kicking myself two weeks later when he called back.

My second piece of advice is to figure out what you’re good at and keep improving.  Take courses, read books and magazines, follow bogs and webcasts, meet others in your field, go to conferences — whatever it takes to stay current and build your skill.  If you are enthusiastic and skilled, people will want you on their team even if you have little experience.

Thirdly, give it away.  Volunteer your expertise, share your ideas.  Don’t hoard your human capital.  Show them what you’ve got and they’ll want to work with you.  Ideas are cheap.  The more you give away, the more you will get.

Finally, surround yourself with intelligent, focused people.  Some of it will rub off on you.  You can only get better.  But these days, watch out for naked ambition.  Watch out for people with get rich quick schemes.  Look for success in the long run and you’ll be better able to balance your life.

You’re probably thinking that this advice would be the same even if unemployment were going down.  You’re right.  Use that kind of statistic as intelligence, not an excuse for inactivity.

3 Comments on “Landing That First Job

  1. I really hope the economy improves. I’m still looking for job : < I keep hearing from some friends working with the BIg 4 that hiring will increase by 2012. Oh… Can we exchange links? I already added yours. hope you add mine.

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