The unstable economy might cause a recent college graduate to throw up his or her hands in despair at the idea of planning for the next five months in today's economic environment, much less his or her professional development over the course of the next five years. However, the very instability that causes such negative and self-defeating thinking makes it all the more necessary that one has a clear career development plan in mind, upon graduation, rather than simply leaving one's life up to economic whims. When the current job creation and retention statistics were released to the media, the main 'buzz' was how such figures would affect the upcoming election, from the candidates' points-of-view. But what of the job seeker's point-of-view, one might ask? Furthermore, the fact that a presidential election is coming up very soon again makes it critical to have an eye on many possibilities and potentialities of how America's economic future may shift and change over the course of the next five years.
First of all, what are a job seeker's goals and objectives? The first, instinctual response might be to make money and to make more money. But this initial impulse, despite the presence of student loans and the desire to enjoy one's twenties, or to simply pay the bills, is not always the best, first goal to define. Most individuals, when they are just starting out, have fewer rather than more financial obligations than they will later on in their adult lives. The recent college graduates of today are less likely to be encumbered with a spouse, children, and mortgage payments than those of the past. They might even have recourse to temporarily living with parents, relatives, and recent college graduates from their school. Hopefully these recent graduates are in good health, mentally and physically. Thus, this initial year or stage may be an excellent time to experiment with one's career path, and to chose a job that offers possibilities for long-term advancement, rather than short-term profit making.
This does not mean that one should press blindly ahead. The limited financial salary one must often operate upon means that a future careerist must measure his or her objectives in a clear and definable fashion. First of all, despite the above caveat regarding salary, one must still have an idea of how much money one will need for rent, the expenses of living (from food to dry cleaning to transportation) and for outstanding obligations such as personal and school loans. Next, one must be clear that the job one takes has advancement potential, either in terms of moving up a stable corporate ladder, or in terms of making connections with other individuals within the industry. For an individual who is a member of a profession, such as an engineer, working at a sound company such as UPS, perhaps, might be an excellent idea, in that it provides a stable and secure method of ascension up the corporate ladder. For an individual in a less coherently defined and hierarchical profession, such as advertising and public relations, becoming a member of the right boutique firm that can give one access to the right people and right accounts might be the best career path. If one's college education is limited or not ideally prestigious, focusing on potential connections rather than coherent opportunities for promotion within an organization may be a necessary, rather than a chosen risk when beginning a vocational path in life and in the workforce of today.
Even if one did not attend the institution of American intellectual Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harvard University, thusly -- one must follow his dictates and know one's self. Boone, van Olffen, and Roijakkers (2004) "found strong support" for the hypotheses in that personality predicted specific study choices and personality predicted different levels of rationality in the choice process. In addition, their findings also suggest more compatible matches between personality and study programs could be observed for students making rational choices based upon the student's accurate perceptions of their own personalities as well as upon financially related matters.
This is not in some transcendentalist sense of the idea that knowing the self is important. It means in practical terms one must know one's persona work ethic and needs for a work and life balance. This means that if one plans on marrying (or is married) one must chose a career path or occupation that allows for sufficient accrual of funds yet an adequate amount of time with one's spouse to maintain a decent relationship, and allows one to keep the balance between childcare and work agreed upon, if and when one has children. Also, one sometimes must make sacrifices when one works, if one labors in a desirable but arduous profession, such as medicine or law. Accounting may be more manageable -- except around tax time, when one may find one's professional self mortgaged to the office. Other individuals in the arts, such as aspiring actors or writers, may wish to work in low-demand jobs they can abandon at a second's notice, in pursuit of a higher or larger vocation. Some of the arts, such as that of a painter, may be easier to manage with teaching at a local school or tutoring, others such as a stand-up comedian who must spend a great deal of time on the road, must find work that allows him or her to balance the need to work late hours and travel frequently with the demands of his or her true calling.
Job-hopping in most professions and a lack of job stability has been characteristic of human resource management in almost all spheres, and one must be aware of this that the fact that 'God laughs when people make plans,' even though a plan is necessary and desirable, means that all individuals, even those not in the human resources profession itself, must be aware of current trends within the industry, such as an increased emphasis on telecommuting in the 1990's, a greater fluidity of job seeking even amongst professionals whom would normally stay within one corporate structure throughout their working lives today, and even an increased demand for women and minority representation within some industries, which could affect one's choice of career and corporation.
Women and minorities must be aware of such trends in particular, one might say, fairly or unfairly, has women have often found themselves more forced to strike an equitable balance between work and personal life. This can prove difficult, as much pre-workplace career advice and counseling does not take abreast of such realistic demands and prejudices of the work and home environment. (Osborne, 2004) But all individuals must be aware of the necessary critical skills and competencies required to achieve success in their chosen profession, as well as the transferable skills they may have from one profession to another. For instance, a strong writer who is an English major might be able to deploy his or her supposedly 'useless' major as an editor. A psychology major might excel in human resources just as much as a more conventional business major. The key is 'selling' these attributes and assets as skills that can be leveraged as personal assets to a potential employer, in a professional context.
If one is seeking a different career or life path -- perhaps the aforementioned English major is seeking a more quantitative occupation in business, he or she could use his or her writing skills as a potential asset to 'sell' an employer, along with the fact that he or she has taken some business classes while in college. A potential accountant or scientist desiring to become a writer might find that he or she is quite desirable as a technical writer by many corporations. Also, merely because one is a recent college graduate does not mean that one's past experiences, in everything from retail sales to telemarketing, used to put one's self through college, cannot be sold as professional experiences that provide the holder of such a resume with the ability to succeed. The ability to deal with consumers and customers give one's personal compatibility and an understanding of other's needs, for instance.
After gaining the 'first job' one must remember this does not mean that one needs to stay in this job for an extensive period of time. But even the least desirable first job can be seen as a step to help one plan for the next five years of a career? A future lawyer might wish to begin as a paralegal to begin his or her career path. By doing so, he or she can gain an idea of the different types of 'lawyer-ing' out there, as well as save needed assets for future professional education. Formal training in most of the professions, government and educational grants and loans and fellowships none withstanding, is extremely expensive, and showing one's future school that one is secure and certain in one's career path, and has a good idea of…