New degree. No job. Now what?

July 2, 2024
picture of degree / grad cap

It’s that time of year. Graduation season. We know what that means… more than a few conversations involving the question “What should I do…” or “What should my kid do…” now that he or she is done with college?

Disclaimer: If you’re reading this blurb for a 7 step process detailing how to get that great first job, save yourself 3 minutes and stop here. If you’re interested in some perspective on what’s really going on and why you’re probably overthinking it, I’ll do my best to offer up a nugget or two.

Starting thought… There are TONS of jobs. There are VERY FEW perfect jobs.

Are you kidding me? I graduated 30+ years ago with no idea what I wanted to do… and still don’t.

Observation from 30 years of recruiting… I have perused a few million resumes (i.e. individual career paths) and the overwhelming story is this… whether you like it or not, your career path is most likely going to take a path of least resistance. Meaning, don’t force it. Try as you (or you parents) may to determine the exact trajectory and outcome of your career, just as water tends to find its level, if you just go out and grind away, the right answer inevitably tends to come to you. It might take some time. Maybe decades. But, it will come.

Parents, don’t worry if your kid doesn’t have the answer immediately upon graduation. More likely than not, neither did you. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance he or she ultimately finds his or her path the same way you did. 

Just get out there and interview. Get some reps presenting yourself. Get good at presenting who you are to people… regardless of what job you’re interviewing for. This is a skill you need to develop.

Interview for a job even if you don’t think it’s what you want to do. After interviewing, you might find that opportunity or career path a lot more interesting to you than you thought it would be. Conversely, upon closer examination, the direction you thought you would ultimately be going when you graduated may seem a little less appealing. Maybe you don’t find the right job, but you meet the right team or right mentor and you know this is the right place (or at least a good place) to get started. 

Case in point, pretty much every recruiter ever is a recruiter because they interviewed with a recruiter for something else and ended up in recruiting. Circuitous yes, but you get the point.

Gap year? Sure. If you don’t already have a plan, why not? Go get some experience, learn some life skills, learn how to be independent… it’s all experience.

Riddle me this… if I can’t get a good job without experience and I don’t have any experience, how do I get a good job? Answer… Get a job!!! Then you’ll have experience.

* Research credit for this stream of consciousness goes to Kevin Clemens (Senior Partner- Oil & Gas), his son/new graduate Ethan, and the gaggle of other new grads and new grad parents with whom I’ve frequently had this same discussion over the past couple of months. I wish I could put you all in the same room at the same time so you could realize you’re all in the same boat.

Congratulations, good luck to all of you… and relax. It’s going to be fine. You’re going to kill it.

Monte Merz

Founder / Managing Partner

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