Not sure when to leave your job? A bad day could be just that, or it could signal the breaking point. Over at US News & World Report today, I talk about some good reasons to quit your job, and help you learn the six signs that show you should sever ties – for good. Read it here.
Never let a lack of experience keep you from great opportunities. Over at US News & World Report, I talk about the five steps you should use if you find yourself desiring a position that feels like a stretch. Read it here.
Gen Y came out of school exploring one job to the next, but when the recession hit, many said the days of job-hopping were over. However, there’s no reason to be scared into longevity at your current position. Over at Brazen Careerist, I explore the ten reasons to keep job-hopping. Read it here.
People are willing to try anything to stand out nowadays, but baking cupcakes probably shouldn’t be one of your strategies. Over at Brazen Careerist today, I talk about the pros and cons of using gimmicks in the job-search, and how you can really separate yourself from the crowd. Read it here.
Preparing job-search materials is often difficult and time-consuming, and the process doesn’t stop once you’ve scored an interview. To make the best possible impression, follow the four steps I’ve shared over on US News and World Report today to prepare for the conversation and show you’re the best candidate for the job. Read it here.
The emails I get most often are from recent college grads who are depressed about their job prospects. I always give them the same advice, and I’ve included some of those steps in my latest post on U.S. News and World Report today. You can read it here and then let me know what strategies you’ve used to successfully kick-start your career.
Finding your career purpose is tough. If you come up empty after journaling, quizzes and vision boards, it may be time to take real action. Over at US News and World Report today, I talk about the three steps you can take to gain immediate clarity around discovering your dream job. Read it here.
When you’re laid off, is there anything worse than the feeling that nothing is in your control anymore? Over at U.S. News and World Report today (hey, I write a weekly column there now!), I talk about the five actions you can take to help you regain control, move on with your life and find a new job. Just in case you were thinking of climbing back into your bed permanently. Read it here.
Student debt is being compared to the housing crisis. Catastrophe? Imminent. We’re thrusting our kids into vast amounts of financial turmoil, and for what? Disaster. And while that may be true (education does need a transformation), debt is not the main issue on a young person’s mind.
“You would think that student loans are young people’s only priority,” argues New York Times columnist Charles Blow. “They’re not. In fact, a cleverly designed survey released this week by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics asked respondents ages 18 to 29 to choose between pairings of issues to determine which ones they felt were more important. Among domestic issues, creating jobs always won.”
Student debt wouldn’t be such a big deal if recent grads could find a job. Because the problem isn’t the loan, but the job to pay off the loan to start living life. You only care about paying off student debt if you’re ready to settle down, buy a house, get married, and have kids. But young people delay adulthood. We buy houses later. We get married later. We have kids later. So it doesn’t matter that paying off loans comes later too — if you have a job.
While there has been much ado about the cost of tuition – college debt has reportedly tripled since 1981 – students rarely pay the full tuition cost because scholarships and financial aid have risen as well. “For the current school year, the average sticker price for tuition and fees at a private, nonprofit college is $28,500,” reports NPR writer Jacob Goldstein. “And yet, the average price students actually pay is less than half that — $12,970. That’s almost identical to the $12,650 that students paid, on average, in the 2001-2002 school year.”
Not to mention, college debt is a deliberate choice young people make. I’m from Illinois, but went out-of-state for school. My mother pleaded with me to go in-state. Same education, lower cost. Of course I knew she was right, but every college student knows the price of higher education doesn’t simply include courses, room and board, but the experience of stepping out and being on your own. An experience I simply didn’t want to have in my hometown.
Many other young people have made similar choices. Kelsey Griffith, 23, attended Ohio Northern, a private college that costed her nearly $50,000 a year. “As an 18-year-old, it sounded like a good fit to me, and the school really sold it,” Ms. Griffith, a marketing major, told the New York Times. “I knew a private school would cost a lot of money. But when I graduate, I’m going to owe like $900 a month. No one told me that.”
You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t sympathize with Ms. Griffith. Smart enough to go to a private school, but can’t do basic math? I pity the marketing budget she’ll soon manage.
We deliberately choose to take on debt to get the best possible education. And while the same could be said of mortgage debt and our pursuit of the American Dream, unlike the the housing crisis, student loan interest rates are low, and the forgiveness level is high. If you don’t have a job, you can delay payments. If you’re experiencing economic hardship, you can delay payments. God forbid you want to go back to school and incur more debt, you can once again delay payments. The system does everything it can to help you get on your feet.
Personally, I went to a public school trading the corn of Illinois for the cows of Wisconsin. At the time, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s out-of-state tuition was the highest among Big Ten schools. The University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana (located in my hometown) was the lowest. My debt totaled around $12,300 (the average per borrower is $23,300, not the $60,000-$100,000 outliers often strut out in news stories). I paid it off earlier this year, in part, because I’ve been continuously employed since graduation.
Many other young people aren’t so lucky. A whopping fifty-three percent of recent college grads are jobless or underemployed, and that’s why we care eighty percent more about creating jobs over addressing social security, lowering the tax burden on Americans, income inequality, combatting climate change, reducing the role of big money in elections, or developing an immigration policy.
Not a generation to be down on our luck, we’ll take a paycheck where we can get it. Recent graduates are now more likely to work as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined. Steve King of New Communications Research argues “the grim job market is another key reason more young Americans are pursuing work as independents (temps, freelancers, etc.).”
Gen Y just wants to work. So let us. Provide jobs that could change the educational system, the economy, the world, instead of fussing about student loans. Then Gen Y could pay our debts, and that would be energy well-spent.
Alexandra Levit has just published the book, New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career, which is a great resource if you’re looking for a job or trying to find more happiness in your career. And it got me thinking, one of the myths I see over and over is that job-seekers or those looking to switch careers don’t think they have the skills or experience they need.
What a cop-out.
Of course, any career has a set of knowledge specific to that field. As an architect you probably have some technical knowledge about the size of a door jamb as well as general education about your specialization, like hospitals. But now that you’re ready to move to a new field, you don’t feel you have the gutzpah (experience, skills, knowledge) to apply to that journalism position or get into business development.
Very few employers are actually looking for someone with high level of expertise in a topic, but rather someone who can gain results. This is especially true the higher up the ladder you get. Look at the CEO of Yahoo Carol Bartz who originally came from the AutoCAD industry (architecture and design software).
As an unintentional job-hopper, the next job never hired me because of my body of field knowledge, but my track record of results which is a skill-set suitcase that travels with me and increases (one day, I hope it’s bursting open) to any job.
Those transferable skills are what’s most useful to employers: problem-solving skills, project management, marketing skills, business development, staff management, training and development; communication skills, etc. – and those are what should show up on your resume, how you should talk about yourself when networking, and what to include when writing your cover letter.
Could you have any job you want? If not, what’s hindering you or holding you back? Do you have a skill-set suitcase? How do you define it?
So if you’re being a curmudgeon, stop it. The recession is a great time to advance your career. It’s a myth that there aren’t any jobs. Here are three places to discover your next position:
1) Companies that save consumers money.
“While most big retail chains are closing stores and radically cutting back on new outlets, the dollar chains are planning to open hundreds of stores this year,” reports the New York Times. Dollar stores are out-performing even the Wal-Mart giant.
Not only are these once-shifty chains grabbing up market-share, but they’re now considered hot. Not just for the prices, but because consumers are discovering their service is better.
Consumers opt for value and family time over shopping in a recession, so personal attention and conveniences like an easily-accessible staff, less-crowded aisles and traversable parking is tracking with the consumer’s re-discovered values.
The online coupon distributor Coupons.com is also rapidly expanding for similar reasons. Just look at their jobs page; they have twenty-nine open positions in engineering, finance, HR, sales, marketing, and operations. And my own company Alice.com has hired three additional employees since I began work in January.
Saving money, value and convenience are hot commodities during a recession, and these companies will need your help satisfying the consumer’s appetite.
2) Start-up companies that disrupt markets.
Start-up companies like Alice thrive during a recession not only because we will provide value to the consumer, but also because we will disrupt the traditional retail market.
Other start-ups with disruptive business models are poised to take a strong foot-hold as well, like Hulu. In a recent video interview, CEO Jason Kilar reported that Hulu is ahead of their revenue plan for 2009 and they have ten advertised jobs available.
Indeed, Business Week’s Mike Mandel cites evidence that 80% of the top-ten Fortune 500 companies were started during a recession. Recessions have historically weeded out bad ideas and enlivened entrepreneurship, all of which comes together in a perfect storm for job-seekers, innovators and new thinkers.
3) Public sector jobs that solve problems.
The shift in talent to disruptive markets and new growth industries (like green, tech and health care) will have a lasting effect on the nation and the economy.
Especially since traditional careers like law, journalism and finance are all suffering from an identity crisis drastically altering career paths towards public-sector jobs including positions in non-profits, cities, counties, states and other government agencies.
“New career directions are tethered less to the dream of an immediate six-figure paycheck on Wall Street and more to the demands of a new public agenda to solve the nation’s problems,” New York Times columnist Steve Lohr argues.
And those do-gooder jobs tend to be fairly recession-proof. The top ten cities for job growth in 2009 as reported by Forbes all benefited from plentiful government jobs.
Topping the list for job growth is Madison, Wisconsin, the city I call home. A spokeswoman for the city’s chamber of commerce claimed that Madison is “historically recession proof,” in part because the city is the seat of city, state and county governments, and they all provide jobs.
The tie that binds these three opportunities for job-seekers – smart retailers, disruptive start-ups and the public sector – is the emergence of meaningful work in the face of complex problems.
What do you think? Have you had trouble finding a job in the recession? What industries have you seen luck and growth in, and which have been more difficult? What companies are poised to hire the next generation of talent?
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One frequent comment talked about the idea that you will someday need a reference from a previous employer to get a job. I argue that you may not need that type of reference, especially for “cool jobs.”