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Joe Szynkowski: Leveraging your new degree the right way
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COLUMN | WORKHAPPY

Joe Szynkowski: Leveraging your new degree the right way

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As we continue with our May theme of helping job seekers find fresh starts in their careers, I can’t help but think of all the college graduates hitting the job market this month.

Has there been a scarier yet more wide-open time to be entering a new career in recent history? You may point to job seekers looking for work after The Great Recession. But heck, many companies today don’t even know if they’re summoning workers back to the office or keeping full work-from-home structures.

Talk about the wild west!

I talked with the chief executive officer of a massive government contractor this week who was still unsure about requiring his 300-plus employees to come back to work. They have seen massive productivity gains during the pandemic – why change it now?  

This widespread uncertainty for employers puts college graduates in a real conundrum: How, where and when do I work?

The Struggle is Real

The unemployment rate for young college graduates exceeds that of the general population. About 41 percent of recent college graduates – and 33.8 percent of all college graduates – are underemployed in that they are working in jobs that don’t require a college degree, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

This tells me that many college graduates are jumping at the first opportunity to hold down employment due to the wobbly job market. If they turn down a job offer, when and from where will the next one come? Shouldn’t they just be happy to leverage their degree and get to work?

Yes and no.

With patience and a plan, a new grad can hold out for an ideal, high-paying role. They can do so by considering a part-time job in retail, a volunteer post or a club membership while weighing their options.

These experiences can buy them some time while also translating into real skills, including collaboration, problem-solving and customer service.

Be Patiently Persistent

The best thing a college grad can have leaving his or her university is confidence. Don’t wait on one employer to make or break your entry into the job market. Send out multiple resumes and keep a log of all your outreach to help you stay organized.

While you’re waiting for the right job opportunity to hit, get active by talking to other professionals in your field of interest. Have some informal conversations with them about their jobs and how they arrived at them.

You’d be surprised to find how many leaders love to share knowledge and advice, especially with younger, greener professionals.

Act the Part

Remember that anything on your social media feeds is fair game for a hiring manager to uncover. Make sure your Facebook and Instagram channels are public-ready.

Polish up your LinkedIn profile with first-person, conversational language. Do not simply copy and paste your resume’s content into your LinkedIn profile. Get social and use the platform’s “Jobs” function to stay up to date on new opportunities.

Always keep your emails and online communications as professional as possible. Here are some things to consider when it comes to email etiquette:

• Make sure you have a professional email address.

• Craft short, to-the-point subject lines.

• End emails with a signature that includes other ways to contact you.

• Always read your emails at least twice before sending to prevent avoidable typos.

Support New Grads in Your Life

It’s never too early to prepare for your first job. That thought popped up in my head this week while watching my youngest daughter receive her Kindergarten diploma. A couple of questions also came to mind: Why am I always thinking about work, and can someone please explain to me how five years just went by so fast?

The point is, if you wait until you’re done with college to start pursuing your first job, you’re already behind. We can all do our parts by supporting the college grads in our lives with encouragement, advice and simply by listening.

Even the youngest people in our lives will start showing interest in hobbies, activities and yes, possible career paths.

Are we paying attention?

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out www.workhappiest.com for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email Joe@TheUpWriteGroup.com for more guidance on finding career joy.

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