Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

An open letter to the Class of 2012 and the Class of 2013

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on January 19, 2012

This is my third open letter to college juniors and seniors about jobs and careers, and about addressing the challenges of finding and securing that first job out of school (see my letters to the Classes of 2010 and 2011 and to the Classes of 2011 and 2012.) The basic issues I addressed in my first two open letters still apply now and in all likelihood will continue to, and certainly through the foreseeable future. I also write this with a posting in mind that I added to my blog yesterday and another that I will be adding here in a few days.

Yesterday I wrote an open letter to students in the first two years of their college experience in which I focused on the issues of selecting a major (see Thinking Ahead as an Open Letter to the Class of 2014 and the Class of 2015.) My upcoming second posting continuation of that will focus on internships and summer jobs, and on seeking out and securing work experience that will help build a starting foundation for landing that first post-college job and in launching a career.

I write this letter to juniors and seniors who may have missed some of the opportunities that I write of in my two open letters to their younger peers.

• This may mean students who have pursued a major that does not clearly connect with a career path for which there are going to be jobs readily available.
• Regardless of major this may mean students who have not developed a resource base of experience outside of the classroom that would help them as they pursue that first full time job.

This letter is about building a career path foundation when you have to start without a clear set of guideposts that a potential hiring manager could follow, in seeing your value to them and their organization.

• Start out by really thinking through what types of job you want to pursue. Be honest with yourself about what you can bring to the table in preparing a resume and when meeting with others, and in both networking and in interviews. If you are thinking in terms of an engineering position but you do not have the core requisite requirement degree to be eligible, that limits your chances – unless you can demonstrate equivalent or better, and even in the face of set job description hiring guidelines.
• What can you convincingly present yourself as being able to do and prepared to do as a matter of skills and experience and what jobs call for that, that you would seek out as full time employment?
• Look at all of your skills – soft people skills, language skills and communications skills definitely included.
• Consider and apply for transition jobs that might not be precisely what you want but that would help you flesh out your resume and make you a better candidate for what you do want. This, I add, might mean taking a job more or less like what you would want but with a smaller organization that is run on a tight budget, where you would have to start out with a lower salary, without benefits or both. Or you might have to work odd hours or in some other way compromise your short term goals and preferences to gain longer term benefits.
• Join the appropriate professional organizations, and include online groups that are accessible through and maintained on sites like LinkedIn – professional social networking sites. This can help you network into the jobs arena you seek to work in, and it can also be an effective way to learn the language, the issues, the priorities and the basic assumptions of the people who already work in the field you seek to enter.
• Consider the above a description of a part of a job search campaign, directed towards some particular industry, type of business or organization within it, and position within that. And be prepared to simultaneously be working on up to six such campaigns. With time they may all come to focus within one industry, or other single grouping and that simply means you now have a clearer idea as to what you are looking for.
• Reality-check your ongoing efforts. Review your goals, and your job search strategy and its execution with people whose judgment you trust. Go over your ongoing experience in the search with them to find places where you need to fine tune or even significantly course-correct.
• Remember to keep in contact with your classmates and join your alumni association – and any relevant LinkedIn and other online groups that draw in members from your school. Fellow alumni from your alma mater who are working in the types of careers you seek to enter can be invaluable allies in your search and their value only goes up when these are people working at businesses you have targeted as great places to work too. Recommendations from within an organization can carry a great deal of weight in candidate selection.
• And be persistent and keep going. You may be starting from a weaker position then other candidates with perhaps more sought-after majors and/or internships in their backgrounds but you can catch up and excel.

As a final thought for this posting, review my other open letters as noted above, and I do recommend reading and trying the exercises in my job search oriented postings in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development with most of that listed in its first directory page. This posting and other/recent open letters related to it can be found in its directory page continuation.

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