College graduates faced a tough job market in 2009, but will 2010 graduates face similar challenges? Although layoffs have slowed down, unemployment is at a 26-year high. The National Association of College Employers (NACE) 2009 Student Survey shows that just 19.7 percent of 2009 graduates who applied for a job actually have one. And, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2010 Fall Preview, employers expect to hire 7 percent fewer graduates from the college Class of 2010 than they hired from the Class of 2009.
Competition is fierce. If you are lucky enough to land a job right of college, what should you do to improve your chances of easing the transition and keeping employment? For starters, understand a few things first:
You’re not the best thing sliced bread! It’s ok to express new ideas, to request new challenges, and to want to gain a promotion; however, respect the politics, culture and communication practices of your organization. Understand opportunities may present themselves – but you won’t be the CEO overnight.
If you have needs, communicate them. Don’t get frustrated if your organization doesn’t do everything the way you think is most beneficial to success. Don’t assume those around you are mind readers. Much like in a college lecture hall when you raised your hand to ask a question, speak up and communicate your concerns as well as ideas for positive changes. Ask questions to help better understand your roles and responsibilities and organizational culture, and do so in a manner appropriate to your organization.
You can’t do it all alone. The use of technology and drive for quick success can often impede the capacity to forge relationships. Some people from other generations may place more value on face-to-face communication as a way to build lasting relationships over time. Some day you will have your bosses’ job; however, not yet. Instead of focusing on what you will do when you get their job, focus on building relationships with them now. You’ll need support and mentoring as you progress in your career.
Pay attention to the culture. You’ll never find an organization that offers everything on your “work-life balance” list. Decide what’s most important to you. Two of the biggest complaints employers have of recent graduates is that they demand too much too fast, and they often leave the company within just a few years. If you understand the organizational culture, you can determine if it matches your needs; it then becomes much easier to avoid these types of obstacles.
Learn when to shut up. Open communication is a valued trait; however, that doesn’t mean say everything that is on your mind. This doesn’t mean don’t be yourself. However, sometimes it’s best to keep certain religious, political and social views out of the workplace. Be cautious to not over criticize those you work with, particularly in public. When utilizing forms of social media, be careful what you say about your organization and those who work there. Don’t just utilize social media to complain, if you like where you work share that with your friends; you may even get a referral bonus if they join your organization.
So what is the moral of the story? Recent graduates are still a fast-growing group within the workforce. Transitioning from college to “reality” can be a tough adjustment. As you make the transition, try and keep an open mind and maintain a level of understanding and communication with those at your new workplace. Remember, your boss isn’t your college professor; you can’t negotiate for your paycheck the way you may have been able to negotiate for you grades. For additional advice, read #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle.
As seen on the Ellen DeGeneres Show May 21, 2010, “Laugh, Dance, Graduate” and then be prepared for what lies ahead!
Scott Span, MSOD, is President of Tolero Solutions, an organizational development and change management consultancy. Tolero Solutions specializes in developing people and organizations to be more responsive, focused and effective to facilitate sustainable growth. Scott successfully delivers organizational improvement solutions to staff teams, individuals and organizations in multiple areas including change management, culture change, leadership development, engagement, retention, performance and sustainability. He is an author on various topics of organizational development including cross generational communication, generational alignment, and Gen Y in the workplace and the creator of the Gen Y Recruitment and Retention Lifecycle ™. His results have not only helped achieve desired goals, but have also increased personal growth and development, leading to a more efficient and effective work environment. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.