Author Shares Tips for Unemployed College Graduates

what to do if you're an unemployed college graduateA former university student of mine Tweeted the other day the great news that she had landed a job. She summed it up like this: “92 job applications. 56 days since graduation. Nine interviews. I’m done.”

When you’re still on the job hunt, hearing about someone else’s good job fortune could spur envy, jealousy, and other negative thoughts and emotions. But her tweet showed what it takes these days to land employment, even with a college degree.

One of the more encouraging — and helpful — books for grads is Bonnie Kerrigan Snyder’s new book, “The Unemployed College Graduate’s Survival Guide.” Snyder, a certified college planning specialist, chatted about how her Harvard degree didn’t immediately open doors for her after graduation and her best tips for unemployed graduates.

Author advises unemployed grads to leverage LinkedIn, get involved in the industry - even before you're hired.Your book starts off with emotional survival tips. Why is this so important?

This is not what anyone expected when they go to college, especially for the current batch of graduates. I think this has been a very rude awakening for a lot of college graduates. Certainly to find a good job, you have to have enthusiasm and you have to have confidence and optimism. It’s partially a mind game. Some people will overcome the odds, but you’re not going to overcome the odds if you give up. I also think I have a lot of sympathy.

Why do you have sympathy for unemployed graduates?

I went to an Ivy League school and I took it for granted that I would find a good job quickly and easily. It wasn’t that easy for me back in the ’80s, graduating into a recession (with an English degree). People had warned me. Harvard had a way of just exuding confidence that of course I would be fine no matter what I majored in, and I should choose what I love. The work world wasn’t that welcoming.

 Is there anything that you did that today’s unemployed graduates should do?

I went to temp agencies and I got some very good interviews through temp agencies. I don’t think people should discount them. I learned a lot by going to temp agencies. What you learn is who is hiring. If an industry is willing to pay a premium to hire a temp, that means business is good in that field. I added a specific workplace credential. I got myself a teaching certificate pronto.

What’s a tip for job hunting using social media?

Get off Facebook and get into LinkedIn. LinkedIn has merged as the place where business occurs. It’s a much more professional network where you need to build a professional presence. You can keep the Facebook account, but don’t think that’s how you’re going to be doing any professional networking. A really obvious thing that college students have overlooked is have you connected on LinkedIn with parents of your roommate and frat buddies? These may be people who may be able to help you out. The older generation is likely in the position to hire you.

What’s a good networking tip?

Once you have targeted an industry, invest in joining the professional organization that represents the people in that industry. There are thousands of organizations that have an annual conference. It’s very worthwhile and a necessary expense to join the organization and to attend the conference. Why on earth should they take you seriously if you haven’t seen made the investment to keep up with the latest developments in the field? You have to show up, you have to network and you have to attend the presentations, to find out what the people in the industry are about and listen to the words they use so you know the jargon. You will meet people who know of job opportunities.

How long have you been hunting. Which of these tips will you start using? Comment below…


About Lori Johnston

Lori Johnston is a Georgia-based freelance writer and former Associated Press reporter. She has contributed to many publications, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and People magazine. A 1995 graduate of the University of Georgia, Johnson also has served as adjunct professor in the school's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.