Not since the Great Depression has the current crop of recent grads faced more difficult job prospects. Not only is the U.S. economy in bad shape with the jobless rate holding steady at 9.1 percent, recent developments clearly indicate that it's not getting better any time soon. By all estimates, Europe seems to be in equally bad shape.
Faster recovery outside the U.S. further complicates the picture for young Americans looking for jobs because it's not coming from yesterday's "plum" markets like the UK, Germany or Switzerland. With Europe's credit and banking crisis seeming to get worse by the day, there are now several reports that Brazil, Russia, India and China may look to buy up a portion of sovereign debt from troubled European nations. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), some of the greatest economic growth is coming from China (10.3%), Singapore (14.4%), India (10.5%) and Brazil (7.5%) versus the U.S. (2.8%). Increases in hiring in 2011 can be found in Hong Kong -- which boasts less than 3 % unemployment -- China, India, Singapore, Brazil and the UAE. The Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) economies together are worth about $12 trillion, compared with $15 trillion for the U.S. economy; by 2020, their economies should pass that of the United States.
And this is where the jobs are and will continue to be. Whatever you personally think of globalization is somewhat irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that globalization is already here; and not only is it here to stay, its pervasiveness is destined to expand. Most employers already understand that. They want and need globally-minded and experienced employees. American grads need to be prepared to work internationally -- which does not necessarily mean working abroad, but it does mean embracing the world.
Yet competition is fierce as detailed in this video on the changing dynamics of the world. The stakes are high for high school, undergrad and grad students, as well as recent grads and new professionals just starting their careers. Yet times of change offer the possibility of positive as well as negative transformation. As politicians have pointed out -- too often without acting on their own understanding -- the Chinese word for "crisis" ("weiji") is made up of two characters: one meaning "danger" and the other "opportunity." Today's job seekers must focus less on the dangers of today's global economic transformation, and more on the opportunities it creates.
As an example, opportunities evolve in particular industries around the world. In the survey I conducted for my latest book, Go Global! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad, the top five sectors listed as having highest growth potential are: energy, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, finance and education. But these trends can shift and so you'd be wise to keep your eye on stocks, media reports and industry indicators to figure out where the sustainable growth is. Following a wide range of credible news will help you sort fact from fiction and short-term blips from long-term trends.
The possibilities are endless and cross all sectors be it private, not-for-profit, government, non-governmental organizations and academia. Don't make the mistake of thinking "not in my field" because it probably isn't true. For example, a budding scientist may end up in a new research lab just hatched in India. Communications majors might do social media strategy for consumer products in China. Educators may receive grants to research foreign language development in Russian children. Liberal arts majors may work on campaigns supporting healthy eating in Brazil.
So the real choice -- for those preparing for or just beginning their careers -- is to either embrace globalization or find yourself left even further behind.
But how exactly can young Americans gain the skills necessary to building a successful international career? And exactly how can job seekers best find an international job?
The first step is to Think Globally -- cultivate a global mindset. Make a point of watching, listening to, and reading world news. Pay attention particularly to overarching global events and international business trends. Secure a world atlas and study the countries in the headlines, not just the ones that interest you. If you read a foreign language, check out online news sources in that language to get a more nuanced sense of what's going on. Follow my blog and others' on global career news.
Next, build your international credentials. Study foreign languages and cultures. Volunteer, study or intern abroad. Take a class or two that offers global extensions. Broaden your horizons with cross-cultural music, arts, book, movies and people that interest you. Travel. If you prepare to work in an interconnected world, you will have exponentially greater career opportunities as you build your global brand - and international resume.
Finally, develop a strategy and action plan that includes doing your research, networking and presenting the global you in every exchange with potential employers. Developing a global mindset, building an international resume and pursuing an international career, whether here or abroad, will increase your odds of landing a job today.
These are some of the many topics covered in my new book, GO GLOBAL! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad, a book inspired by my last four years of speaking on campuses across the country. I decided to compile the information I shared - and that which the students, professors and counselors found to be most useful and important - into a straightforward, easy-to-read and inexpensive eBook. I present step-by-step advice on how students and young professionals can develop the requisite skills and conduct the due diligence to identify and land a job.
Although an international career may not have crossed your mind yet, or perhaps you've rejected it thinking it's not for you, think again. Globalization is here and now and happening, faster every year, so all of us -- especially high school, undergrad and grad students -- will need to figure out how to deal with it. Go Global!
Stacie Nevadomski Berdan's latest book, GO GLOBAL! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad, is available as an eBook on Amazon, B&N and (soon) iTunes.
Follow Stacie Nevadomski Berdan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stacieberdan