Job Market Sending Mixed Signals, Says Career Coach Hallie Crawford, Increasing Uncertainty for 2012 College Graduates

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College graduates may be facing a roller-coaster landscape this year, says certified career coach Hallie Crawford, founder of Create Your Career Path. Median salaries for college graduates increased by 4.5% in 2012 and employers’ plans to hire them are up 10.2% (per surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers). Yet, early April also saw unemployment claims rise to 380,000—the highest level since January 2012. According to Crawford, this flood of conflicting information is making it more difficult than ever for college graduates to steer a clear course for their futures.

"College graduates may be facing a roller-coaster landscape this year," says certified career coach Hallie Crawford, founder of Create Your Career Path.

College graduates may be facing a roller-coaster landscape this year, says certified career coach Hallie Crawford, founder of Create Your Career Path. Median salaries for college graduates increased by 4.5% in 2012 and employers’ plans to hire them are up 10.2% (per surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers). Yet, early April also saw unemployment claims rise to 380,000—the highest level since January 2012. According to Crawford, this flood of conflicting information is making it more difficult than ever for college graduates to steer a clear course for their futures.

“For the past few years, college graduates have been told they won’t land their dream jobs, and for many, that has been true,” says Crawford. “The situation appeared to be improving, especially given the positive news from NACE. However, on the heels of those surveys came the disappointing April 12 weekly jobless claims report. I’m hearing from 2012 graduates who don’t know what to think. I’m recommending they temper their enthusiasm with pragmatism, and not be too swayed by the earlier, more positive news.”

“Landing the job of a lifetime has never been impossible, even in this market,” says Crawford. Now, it may be slightly easier for college graduates to find jobs that are appropriate to their education and skill level. Nevertheless, she notes, “I urge an approach that combines passion with practicality. In other words, explore every possible angle to land that perfect position, but be realistic about your need to meet current obligations, as well.”

Crawford, who gives college graduates a complimentary consultation, offers these tips to help graduates determine where to focus their efforts.

  •     Build from a workable budget: Determine how much money you’ll need to live after college and develop plans accordingly. If reducing expenses will allow you to work part-time and focus on your search for a perfect position, the pay-off could be bigger now than at any time since 2007.
  •     Find your “happy place”: If financial realities require you to get a job at all costs, consider expanding your viewpoint. Even in this market, it’s not worth taking a job you’ll hate solely for the industry experience or salary level. Furthermore, dislike for a job can affect your performance and potentially your future. It might be better to take a job you enjoy that provides valuable life or work skills, even if it’s “non-professional.” Your attitude and prospects will benefit and you won’t lose anyone’s respect (provided you give the position your best effort).
  •     Take a long-term view: If you can’t land your dream job, consider taking similar or related positions that could lead to your dream job over time. A job in a dream company—or in the industry where you want to succeed—is a great first step. Passion, dedication and a strong work ethic should drive you the rest of the way.
  •     Explore every avenue: As with all job seekers, college graduates increase their chances of success with networking, volunteer work, well-considered social media usage and other supplementary activities. Don’t forget to stay in touch with classmates and professors, as well, and let them know you’re still looking for the right position.

As a final bit of advice, Crawford says, “If you are lucky enough to be offered a good job, don’t focus too heavily on salary averages. Companies under financial pressure are showing their appreciation in non-traditional ways, such as casual dress codes; telecommuting; even pizza Fridays or unlimited lattes. If you think a good job pays too little, quiz other employees about perks they receive and calculate them into the equation. Job satisfaction is worth a lot, and both gas and suits are expensive. Who knows—it might end up being your dream job, after all.”

About Create Your Career Path
Since 2002 Create Your Career Path and their team of certified career coaches have helped job searchers nationwide identify their ideal career path, navigate their career transition and achieve their career goals. New college grads through mid-career professionals have used our career coaches to find their dream job. Create Your Career Path was founded by certified career coach, speaker and author Hallie Crawford. Crawford has served on the Board of the Georgia Coach Association, and is regularly featured as a career expert on CNN, Fox Business News, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo HotJobs and Entrepreneur Magazine.

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Jennifer Koon
Michael Mackenzie Communications
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