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You can get your dream job in this economy

Tess Vigeland: Despite the good news from Friday's report, the fact is millions of people are still out of work, as Chris said. And college grads are having trouble launching their careers. Sure, the economy is mostly to blame. But commentator Ramit Sethi says they should be looking in the mirror too.


Ramit Sethi: I recently read a heartbreaking quote in the New York Times. It was from a 23-year-old Dartmouth graduate who was forced to wait tables for a few dollars an hour to pay off her student loans.

"We did everything we were supposed to," she said. "What was the point of working so hard for 22 years if there was nothing out there?"

I feel for her. Times are tough. But I also want to offer some blunt thoughts about the job market: It's become popular to claim that there are no jobs, but that's simply not true. I know first-hand. I regularly teach my students how to write persuasive resumes and conquer their job interviews. Within weeks, many of them have multiple job offers.

So why do we spend so much time complaining about the economy instead of actually finding our Dream Job? To find out, I polled over 20,000 people, mostly in their 20s and 30s.

The code word for our generation's career outlook is "betrayed" -- it's not that we're lazy or feel entitled. We worked hard and did everything we were told, yet here we are with crippling student debt and few opportunities.

Many of us claim we want to find our Dream Job, but most of us have done very little to actually get it. Instead, we're doing more of the same -- mindlessly sending out resume after resume. Honestly, if you've sent out 200 resumes with no response, will sending 100 more really change anything?

Here's one simple step to take power back into your hands: Invite three people per week out for informational interviews. Use your network -- college alums, friends, friends of friends, people who already have your Dream Job. Ask them how they got their jobs -- and then turn the table. Tell them how you've prepared for your Dream Job. Impress them with your strengths and skills. Even in this economy, hiring managers are looking for top talent. At the end of the month, you'll have built 12 relationships that can connect you to job openings, while others will still just be complaining about the economy.


Vigeland: Ramit Sethi is the author of "I Will Teach You To Be Rich." Next week, we'll expand on this commentary in an interview with Ramit about the best strategies for job hunting.

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This piece should be totally offensive to any student who has just spent years of his/her life earning a degree and will spend many more years paying off debt. Passing the buck is all it amounts to, and pure ignorance of the role of education as a very profitable, investor-led business, related structural economic problems aside. To dismiss students’ efforts as inadequate, and their legitimate grievances as unproductive whining, is to pretend that all socioeconomic issues reduce to matters of personal deficit. Let them eat superior marketing skills, is what it amounts to. There is, of course, the perfectly legitimate argument that some students have NOT developed the talent and skills needed to compete (and in a global marketplace—another issue); in that case, they should never have been given a degree in the first place, and the only reason they were is because they represent in income to the school in terms of a head count. So, are they innocent victims of the recession? a securitized lending process? or just stupid and lazy? (Are they “truly needy”?) This quandary could be very simply remedied with a piece of legislation that would encourage responsibility among all associated parties: “Repayment of student loan debt, in any field, shall be postponed and uncollectable until such time as the student wins gainful, full-time employment is his or her field, at a salary at least as high as indicated by the institution at the time of enrollment.” That would help to clear things right up.

In many ways Ramit has made comments that align with yours. I know he thinks many students do not have the proper skills or don't know which skills to market.

This supposedly blunt commentary brings nothing that any recent grad doesn't already know and has heard dozens of times. "Networking" is a cliché, "information interviews" have been around for decades. Companies are ready to hire recent grads in good time, as soon as they have good reason, because they are cheap and malleable, with what are perceived as up-to-date skills, and they are cuter. Those most damaged and most rightly discouraged are older, highly skilled workers who are cast aside either explicitly through "private equity" shenanigans like what Bain Capital practices, or implicitly through being released for specious reasons that essentially amount to age discrimination because they are perceived as being no longer of value. A truly "heartbreaking quot[ation]" comes from a talented, experienced former manager, director or technician who finds her/himself unemployable late in their career.

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