The statistics paint a grim picture for recent graduates attempting to enter the workforce fresh out of college. “Graduating in a recession leads to large initial earnings losses,” states the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). “These losses, which amount to about 9 percent of annual earnings in the initial stage, eventually recede, but slowly — halving within five years but not disappearing until about 10 years after graduation.”
And it’s in this first decade of one’s career where career-bound professionals experience 70 percent of their overall earnings growth, NBER notes.
Other takeaways are even more alarming. According to Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), transitioning to work from school during an economic downturn can pose negative consequences later in life. It can affect everything from socioeconomic status to health and even mortality. To that last point, the SIEPR asserts that recession grads experience higher death rates in midlife.
Graduating in a recession can be a daunting experience, and with a highly-competitive job market, many employers are hesitant to hire new graduates. However, it’s important to remember that this is not an insurmountable challenge. With the right approach, college graduates can still find success after graduation, even when economic times are tough.
See Where You’re in Demand
Firstly, it’s essential to keep in mind that the job market is not entirely stagnant, even during a recession. Some industries may be suffering, while others are still experiencing growth. Therefore, it’s crucial to research and identify industries that are still hiring and have a high demand for new graduates.
For instance, the healthcare industry is currently experiencing a shortage of workers, and many healthcare organizations are actively hiring new graduates. Similarly, the technology sector is still booming, and there are plenty of opportunities for graduates with tech-related degrees.
Remain Positive and Persistent
Job searching can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it helps to maintain a positive attitude and persevere. Take advantage of online resources such as job boards, company websites and LinkedIn. Be open to internships or temporary positions as they can lead to full-time employment opportunities.
Develop Your Skills and Expertise
In some cases, gaining more specialized knowledge or certification can make you more marketable to employers. You can take courses or enroll in a certification program to build your skills and credentials, making you stand out from other applicants. Take advantage of resources available to you such as career centers, alumni networks and job search websites. These can provide valuable guidance, support and leads on potential job opportunities, helping you transition into a new field if your current industry is not hiring.
Build a Strong Network of Contacts
In a competitive job market, knowing the right people can make a significant difference. You can start by building relationships with professors, alumni and professionals in your field of interest. Attend networking events, join industry-specific groups on social media, and seek out mentorship opportunities. These connections can lead to job leads and recommendations, giving you a significant advantage over other job seekers.
Be Flexible and Adaptable
During a recession, you may have to adjust your expectations and be open to different job opportunities, roles and industries. Stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments, and be willing to adapt and pivot as needed to stay ahead of the curve. Be willing to relocate or take on part-time work while you search for a full-time job. Consider freelancing or starting a side hustle to gain experience and build your portfolio. Embracing a flexible mindset will increase your chances of landing a job and help you develop the resilience and adaptability that will benefit you throughout your career.
Be Strategic and Intentional
This means identifying your goals and priorities, researching potential employers and industries, and tailoring your applications and resumes to specific positions and companies. Be proactive in your job search, reaching out to potential employers and networking contacts, and following up on applications and interviews. By taking a targeted approach, you’ll increase your chances of finding a job that’s a good fit for your skills and interests.
Develop a Strong Personal Brand
Your brand is how you present yourself to potential employers, and it can make a significant difference in your job search. Make sure your resume and cover letter are well-written and tailored to each job you apply for. Ensure your social media profiles present a professional image and your online activity is consistent with how you want to convey yourself.
Find Success in Economic Uncertainty
While graduating in a recession can be challenging, it’s important to remember that it’s not a reflection of your worth or potential, and it doesn’t have to derail your career. Ultimately, success after graduation in a recession requires a combination of resilience, flexibility and strategic thinking. By staying focused on your goals, building your skills and network, and being proactive in your job search, you can still find success and build a fulfilling career, even in difficult economic times.
Find your next career opportunity through Turn2Partners. If it’s in finance/accounting, HR/admin or technology, we offer direct hire, contract and contract-to-hire placement services for professionals in the Washington, D.C. area.
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