Financial pressures brought on by the record-setting bad economy may derail many recent college graduates.  Many LIES that are swirling around in the heads of the class of 2010 might lead them to abandon their dreams and settle for jobs that lead nowhere.  Here are some TRUTHS that will keep their career train on track and help establish a new grown-up style and attitude.

The Lie: My degree is in _____, and if I can’t land a good, well-paying job in that field, I’ll take anything.   My debt is piling up, so once things turn around, I’ll take the targeted job search more seriously.

The Truth: If you take “anything,” be careful.  You could end up settling for “anything” for a long time.  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, particularly when making money is your primary objective.  The money will start to feel good and there you are, five, ten, fifteen years later in a job you don’t like, and probably not making much more money than you did when you started.  When we take “anything,” we’re usually not taking any old high paying job; it’s most often a job with no real future.  If that’s what you want, okay.  If not, be very careful to stay awake at the wheel of your life.

  • If you “take anything,” never ever stop searching for exactly what you want.  Another option is to “take anything” in your field, or in the company you want to join.  You might not be in the precise position you want or work at the level you want, but over time, you may be able to make your way there.
  • Decide what benefits you need or want to help steer you in a job hunting direction rather than grasping at “anything” that comes your way.  Maybe you want to work for a company with employee development programs or tuition reimbursement to continue your education so that you may qualify for an even higher level post in your field once you complete your MBA or Med, etc.
  • If your debt is driving you to “take anything,” check yourself.  Look at your spending habits.  Many young people today want to live the kind of lifestyle their parents’ income afforded.  You can do that, once you earn at that level.  For now, learn to live within your means, not on credit cards.  Pack your lunch.  Eat in more.  Make coffee at home.  Drink one beer instead of three.  Enjoy free concerts and outings.  Spend more time entertaining at home.  Let your life be about quality, not quantity or the latest hot thing. 

The Lie: My current wardrobe is good enough for job interviews.

The Truth: Fess up.  Your college wardrobe, unless you’re an exception, is not going to get you through the interview process.  You may stand out, but it won’t be for the reasons you want.

  • Keep in mind that you judge others based on their appearance.  Your interviewer will do the same to you.  You will be judged by how appropriately you present yourself in an interview situation by people a generation or two ahead of you.  There are accepted standards and expectations.  Whether you know and employ them will be part of that powerful and lasting first impression.
  • Most job seekers will have a little shopping to do, and tailoring if necessary to achieve a good fit.  Invest in a good suit, two if you can.  One you wear to the first interview, the other to the second.  Or, buy a good navy, gray, taupe, or black suit and change your blouse or shirt and tie for each interview.  Same suit with a fresh look.
  • For most job seeker, the following rules still apply.  Gentlemen, no scruffy, poorly groomed beards.  Ladies, no plunging neckline, revealing cleavage, or exposed thighs.  Save that look for the club.  Women and men, put your best foot forward – polished shoes, neatly groomed hair, clean nails.
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