I'd like to offer some advice to graduates on the First 30 Days After Graduating in a No-Job Environment.
1) You don't need to figure out your entire career
Begin by starting with something you want to do. Most 40/50 year olds still haven't figured out what they want to do with their lives. Chunk it down. Is there a part-time job you want to do for the next month or two? What would you be happy doing for the next year? That's all. Then see what happens. Get out from the pressure of figuring out your life's work. You cannot possibly know yet.
2) Go for what you love
You are the "Do Something You Love Generation." This generation is much more motivated that the previous one to follow their passions. But then parents get in the way. Or fears. Or the news. Or friends who have gone on to do something that's safe.
Do the inner work to get honest with yourself, listen to your gut, and ask -- what do you really want to spend your time doing? When there are fewer jobs, you learn to get incredibly focused. Become immune to what others want you to do or what anyone else thinks is right for you. Apply for jobs that speak to your heart and your passion instead of applying for everything and anything that is out there.
3) The original will inherit the jobs
Do things no one else is doing. Don't just apply for the same jobs, go to the same job fairs or search the same sites online. Think about the companies, products, services you love. Even if they are no obvious jobs being offered, get resourceful. Find out the right person to mail. Tell them you love the company, what they stand for, their goals. Tell them why. Do your homework. Work hard. Make it personal. Get your personality on paper. Make it funny. Make it something they've never read before. Make it easy for them to meet you.
4) Take a "news fast"
Trends, general opinions, and the news are not on your side. Read other types of news, sites and magazines. Refrain from agreeing with everyone on how bad it is out there. You get to choose what you listen to and what you let into your brain. Optimists choose to look at what's possible, the progress they're making, how something good will happen. Act as if no one had told you how bad it was out there. And don't use the news/statistics as your excuse to fall back on.
5) Flex your "change muscle"
The most important life skill you can learn right now that can help you land your dream job is to be cool with change and uncertainty. The quality of your life is directly proportionate to the amount of uncertainty you can be comfortable with. Don't cling to answers, being in control, knowing what's next or how its going to turn out. Get flexible. Let things unfold. Be okay if you thought you were going to get a job and then didn't. Something good will come from any change. You are much stronger, more resilient, more intuitive than you've ever been told. The best of who you are comes out during times of transition.
6) Get Healthy
Clean yourself up, literally! Get a makeover, get rid of any old clothes, cut your hair, cover up those tattoos, change those earrings and treat yourself to a new wardrobe.
Working takes energy and endurance. A job search does, too. The more you take care of yourself, sleep, eat well, stay hydrated, exercise, the more energy you will have to dedicate to this post-graduation phase. Employers prefer to hire and also keep people who are healthy. When everything on the outside seems out of control, this area is under your control. Feeling discouraged, go to the gym, go for a run. You will always feel better about yourself. Get those emotions of fear, doubt, impatience moving out of your body.
7) Don't Eat the Marshmallow
In a study at Stanford University conducted over 25 yrs ago, a class full of 5 year olds were given a marshmallow and told not to eat it for five minutes and only then, would they be given a second marshmallow. The teacher then left and observed the class. 90% of the kids ate the marshmallow. The kids were then followed for the next 25years. Those who were able to delay the instant gratification and wait, were off the charts and more successful in every area of their life. What's the lesson? Good things come to those who wait. Many students graduate and feel such pressure to be the next Steve Jobs, the next Anderson Cooper or a superstar designer. It's fine if it takes you a little while to find the job you want. We all overestimate how quickly things are going to happen in a month or so and often give up or settle. And we all underestimate how different our lives can be in six-to-nine months. Give yourself a longer runway.
If you only do one only one thing to help yourself during this period of uncertainty, let it be to shift your beliefs! The job market is only as bad as you choose to believe it is. There will always be jobs. There will always be opportunities to help, to try to build your own company. Be part of the solution, not the problem. Think abundance, not scarcity!
And until you do find that perfect job of your dreams, find an hour or two to contribute or volunteer. Your character is what's most important. "Giving back" has you meeting people, feeling useful, realizing someone needs you and your skills. Offer to help people. "Is there anything small I can help you with?" The world has a funny way of helping those who help others. Ask how you can be serve and you just might find the world looking to serve you too!
Ariane is the founder/CEO of www.first30days.com, a company that helps people through all types of life changes. She is also the author of the book, The First 30 Days; Your Guide to Making any Change Easier (HarperCollins) just released in paperback.
More tips for graduates are available on her blog at www.first30days.com/ariane