Though reports seem to indicate that today’s marketplace for jobs is improving for job seekers, the last several years have proven intimidating, and the road ahead is still steep and long. If you are a recent graduate, you have undoubtedly received warnings about “not being too picky” when seeking opportunities.
Be assured that congratulations are in order for your academic accomplishments as well as the future that awaits you. In college, though you had many choices to make, much of the framework for your experience was prepared for you. As you seek to secure your first professional opportunity, you may feel bombarded by warnings, recommendations, inflated ideals, pessimistic predictions, and “you should’s”. Don’t let anybody “should” all over you.
The reality is that the economy and the job market will always fluctuate. You are talented, and there are jobs that need to be filled. The information age has brought on some challenges, such as 24-7 work expectations, but it has also brought on more options than ever before. This means that you can use your creativity to focus on your first choices when it comes to launching your experiences in the world of work. With so many grim headlines about the outlook for today’s young job seeker, you may be tempted to not even consider going after your “Plan A”, the plan you really want to pursue. Instead, you may be influenced to assume that no one is getting their first choices these days, so you should not waste your time. (There’s that “should” again.)
It is very important to keep your eyes open when exploring the world of work, and it will serve you well to have Plan B in mind as you knock on doors in different industries and companies. Many workers today have portfolio careers pursuing multiple avenues at once. You may need to build upon your efforts so you do not burn out, though you do not need to abandon what tugs at your heart simply because you’ve been told “it’s a jungle out there.”
So, how can you keep your focus on Plan A while casting a net that might include Plan B? Consider the following suggestions:
Network as a lifestyle choice. Networking is not just for when you are in a desperate job hunt. It is a way of seamlessly making connections and building relationships from a multitude of sources for mutual benefit. You never know when and how these contacts will assist you or when you will assist them.
Look for ways to be entrepreneurial in spirit. Many people attempt to start businesses on the side of their full-time jobs today. If a side hustle is not your thing, note that you can assert yourself within a company from the standpoint of different positions and seek mentors or special projects that help you cross-train and broaden your experience and influence.
Career paths don’t have to be linear. Gone are the days of the 40-year job and the gold retirement watch, for the most part. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the average person will have 11 different jobs in his/her lifetime and keep each for 4.5 years. This means that you do not need to feel like you sign away your life whenever you accept a position. Think “opportunities” rather than “jobs”. Think of a web rather than a ladder. You will build on each experience and create a larger career picture.
Use passion as your fuel. “What if I don’t have a singular passion?” What about it? Passion can ebb and flow and change entirely throughout your life. Don’t let the search for your passion hold you back. Let the desire for passion fuel your energy for life and work. You can move forward and gain experience while exploring a greater understanding of yourself and what motivates you.
Believe in your wildest ideas and in the power of experimentation. Take small risks towards experimenting with “out there” ideas within the framework of your work and life. Follow up on a connection you made at the grocery store. Research people and resources regarding a possible invention. Talk with people in positions you admire to learn about the gaps in an industry and opportunities for improvement. You can explore a hunch without making a commitment, and you can organize your life to support your priorities, your Plan A, even if Plan A remains in progress.
Congratulations, class of 2013! We need your innovation, so bring it on!Christy Robb is a career development and lifestyle coach and writer who aims to empower people with tools, resources, and a mindset that supports them in realizing their ability to recalculate old assumptions about work and life in order to achieve mental and emotional freedom – and take action on their true desires. Having operated on “both sides of the table” as a coach and a recruiter, her work brings a unique perspective to her clients and readers on strategies for success in today’s world of work. Read her blog, Meaningful Meandering , find her on Twitter (@Christy_Robb) and Facebook (Christy Robb Career & Lifestyle).