Four in Five College Grads Who Apply Can’t Get a Job!

In one of the most sobering statistics related to the current economic recession I’ve seen in a while, CNN is reporting that four in five 2009 college graduates who have applied for a job have not gotten one. That means 80% of this year’s college graduates who have applied for work are “graduating into poverty” – moving back home with their parents in horrified disbelief that they are still eating Ramen noodles and unable find a job that requires a high school diploma, let alone a college diploma.

One of the main reasons students experience this unfortunate introduction to the “real world” is because they are among the millions of generic college graduates who have done little or nothing to distinguish themselves during the Dash Period – the time they have between freshman and senior year to brand themselves. Generic people fare no better in the marketplace than generic products – companies will only invest limited dollars and resources in them because they only perceive limited value and opportunity or return on their investment.

Today’s college students are facing the prospect of graduating into a hotbed of economic uncertainty with layoffs and hiring freezes all around. If you are currently in this situation, you can shrug your shoulders and graduate into poverty, using the down economy as an excuse for accepting a menial, unrewarding job with no future prospects after working so hard for four (or more!) years to earn your degree. Or you can roll up your sleeves and do what it takes to be that fifth of every five graduates who gets the job they apply for.

Hopefully, you spent your college career earning good grades, taking leadership positions in extracurricular activities, participating in internships and co-ops, and generally building a name for yourself as a top student and overall performer. If so, now is the time to cash in on all the goodwill you built up in the past four years. Get references from deans and professors, see if a company you once interned for may have an unadvertised opening they’re saving for a proven prospect, let potential employers know about your extracurricular successes that occurred outside of the classroom.

Maybe your college career wasn’t quite so colorful. That’s OK- it’s never too late to start building your brand! Volunteer your skills for a non-profit group and go “above and beyond” to show the heights you’re capable of achieving. If an employer who interests you does not have any openings, ask if you can come on board as an unpaid intern for the summer and then knock their socks off with your effort and talent.

Also, don’t forget to network, network, network. Anyone and everyone is a potential lead for a job. Treat everyone you meet as the key to the launch of your career. Eventually you will be correct, and in the meantime you will build a personal reputation as a friendly, energetic person. Personal branding is just as important as professional branding. Even if you have good professional skills, a negative or dull personality can scare off potential employers.

Stay positive, try your hardest, and take every opportunity possible to prove your worth, even if in the short term it doesn’t offer financial gain. Build your brand the right way today, and the job (and money) you desire will surely come tomorrow!