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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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What Ramit is saying is a reminder about finding a job and also of how we interact with one another. Most of us have heard of networking. I knew that even before I even heard of Ramit. Yet, why is it many of us (and I do mean many) just blast application after application online without seeing any result? It's simple and it seems productive but it definitely is not. It's much like going to work, attending a bunch of meetings and saying you were productive even though nothing was accomplished. Networking is still the way many of us get a job. Just ask around your office. How people at work got their job because of someone they knew? You'd be surprised to see the answer. Think about this way too. Even though our technology blinds us to this, we still FEEL our way through hiring people. For example, one of my best hires was straight out of college. I knew I wanted to hire someone with a fresh perspective. Out of the blue I get a candidate and I could tell this guy was hungry. I interviewed him and absolutely feel in love with the guy. Hired him and he did exceptionally well. In fact, I gave him two raises in his first year. In the end, it was about how I felt about the person. That is what networking does. It builds relationships so people can make it easy to hire you.

For those who say this is something that recent grads already know, maybe. But then again, maybe not. I didn't know this stuff when I graduated college, from a top NESCAC school. "Networking" was something that older people did, not me. Of course, I got my latest job at an informational interview at a Panera, with a startup that didn't have a position listed yet. (So, yes, take people to coffee, it pays off.)

I initially worked for free for a few weeks, helped craft the job description and now I've helped the startup grow hundreds of times over in the past couple of years. (The listed positions almost always suck anyway.)

Anyway, this is advice that works well whether you're a recent grad or a manager who was laid off. Yes, it's awful to get laid off, but it's even more awful to wallow in self-pity when a little accountability would go a long way!

Figures from December 2011-
Unemployment rate for people with a college degree: 4.0%
Number of job openings nation-wide: 3.4 million
Number of new hires: 4.0 million

That's 4 million people starting a new job in one month. What's your excuse?

Amazing... It's almost as if the commenters have not either listened to or read the editorial.

Yes, times are tough, and yes, there are events that are out of our control. However, that makes it all the more important to focus on doing things that are within our own locus of control.

The fact is, very few people will even do the *tiny bit* that is suggested. Conducting "informational interviews" is how I got to where I am, getting positions that are not even advertised.

BTW, my experience has been that a large fraction of "advertised" positions are pro forma notifications of positions that are already filled... it is only HR that demands that advertisements be sent out.

Bwahahahaha! These comments are great, because they basically illustrate exactly what the commentary is talking about.

Either that, or they are completely irrelevant to the issue of finding employment.

Instead of seeing that Mr Sethi makes some good points about what individuals can do to improve their job search, it's all "Everything sucks, so trying to provide actionable advice is stupid, because everything sucks."

Wow. You guys have no clue.

"Networking" IS a cliché, and informational interviews HAVE been around for decades. But how much real networking (the productive kind, not the business-card shotgun kind) has the typical new graduate actually done? How many informational interviews have they done in the past month?

The point is not that there is an easy fix. The point is that if you create relationships within your target industry (and have the skills to back it up - that's also vital), you stand a much better chance of finding work before others who are following the typical job search process.

Oh, and mikenaeve - Mr Sethi doesn't need to worry about his job being eliminated.

If I had a nickel for every incompetant "highly skilled" older manager or any age worker I've dealt with, I'd be a trillionaire. It always seems like the less work they do, the more their paid. And the people that really "work" doing everything are paid less. It is the people that have only ever been able to "MANAGE" and not work that are the real pieces of shit. There is nothing funnier than a manager who cuts costs, by hurting others, being hurt themselves by the same practices later on. It's like a manager, knowing that employee evaluations might cut into a quarterly bonus, low-rating them. My favorite experience was a job I had for 5 years until 2004, when I left, where we all got an extra dollar per hour working at night...until some "innovative" young man thought to make it 50 cents for 6 hours instead of 8. WOW!!!! $5 saved per employee...only most decided to steal or find other ways to compensate for the loss and then, out of sheer anger and disgust, take more than these "Innovators" ever could have imagined!!!! Be carefull what you wish for...You just might get it and then the unexpected variables collapse everything!!!

Since you're so highly skilled yourself, all of your grammar mistakes must make this comment satire, right?

What an ignorant dickhead! It is SO easy to spout crap from the internet as 'the real way.' I wonder what this piece of crap will advise when HIS job is eliminated!

I agree with much that is said in the last two comments. As an organizational psychologist who has work with several hundred people looking for jobs, all of these things are necessary but they still do not overcome the larger issues of economics and huge shifts in the world of work. When will you cover some one whose message is something other than "keep your spirits up, dream dreams, network, work on your elevator speech, have sizzle in your resume, etc."

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