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Young, Fabulous, and Unemployed: Strategies for Survival, Part I

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The graduation-party balloons are drooping, and so are your spirits. If you are among the thousands of recent college grads who haven’t landed a job yet, take heart. No, you did not waste time going to college. Research shows that, in the long run, more education translates to higher income.

And, yes, today’s job market is merciless and frustrating. Employers require on-the-job experience, but how are you going to get that experience if they won’t hire you? Plus, summer is here. Companies both large and small postpone hiring decisions from about mid-May until after Labor Day. Hiring managers take vacations. And as hard as it is for us Type-A Americans to admit it, business slows down a bit when the weather gets warmer and the days longer.

The big problem, though, is that there simply aren’t a lot of jobs out there to be found. Companies are still not investing in their future by hiring new talent. So what is a young college graduate to do? Short answer: Don’t sit and wait. It’s critical you learn new skills. Having just graduated, you’re sure you’ll never again enter a classroom.

Mach Creative

But, like it or not, your future success, your survival, depends on continuous learning. Learn something, anything.

We are not necessarily talking about traditional, brick-and-mortar classroom learning. There are tons of cost-effective ways to use your downtime strategically.

My friend Josh always wanted to learn to play the guitar. Thanks to YouTube, he’s making a lot of progress and turning his teenage dream into reality. Another friend, Doreen, is volunteering at an animal shelter. My mentee Phyllis learned to use Photoshop, a skill that eventually helped her land her dream job.

In every case, their pursuit of new skills says something about them. They’re resourceful, hardworking, creative, disciplined, and focused—characteristics that are in great demand in the 21st century job market.

It’s a skills game out there. And these days, the more skills, the better. Standing still is deadly.

–Susan Mach, PhD

Susan Mach, PhD, is a communication coach, trainer, and strategist. She teaches management communication part time at major NYC-area business schools, and investment research report writing at NYSSA.

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