What's Going on out There?: Job Hunting in a Bad Economy
"A bad economy is no excuse to put off finding your dream job,” says Mary Raymond, director of Sarah Lawrence’s Office of Career Counseling. Raymond maintains that it’s actually easier to find a job you love when times are tight.
“When jobs are readily available, it’s easy to end up with one you didn’t really want. You can afford to go into a job hunt mindlessly,” she explains. “When the economy is weak, securing any job will be more difficult, so it’s a good time to focus your energy on pursuing the career you really want. With more people applying for any given position, employers will give the job to the applicant who really cares.”
Every Sarah Lawrence alumna/us, regardless of graduation year, can get advice from the OCC, which offers everything from resume tune-ups to tips on overhauling your career—and it’s free. Most alumnae/i who use the OCC, Raymond reports, do so because they’re unhappy at their jobs. Your company? The work you do? Or something inside of you that makes work unsatisfying? Whatever the cause, the office helps you frame the issues and plan what you can do about it.
Take a recent OCC visitor, who has spent the 20 years since graduation as a graphic designer and now wants to join the Foreign Service. Friends tell her it would be foolish to give up her high-paying marketing job, but Raymond has encouraged her. “It was a good fit for her. People tend to think of themselves as the last job they had, but it’s not what you did that counts, it’s what you want to do,” Raymond asserts.
The OCC’s philosophy on remedying the career blues is that it’s not your skills, but your personality, interests and values that matter. To help clarify these traits, the OCC offers online assessment tests that can point to appropriate careers; you take them at home (get the password from the OCC), then let Raymond interpret the results and offer suggestions, either in person or over the phone.
Once you have a better idea who you are and what you want to do, another visit to the OCC Web site is in order, where a link to the Vault Web site gives you access to its full online library of industry guides to help you narrow your career choices. Sarah Lawrence also subscribes to several online databases of job listings (again, the OCC has the passwords).
For the applying-for-jobs phase, the OCC can help with your resume, cover letter, and skills in interviewing and salary negotiation. Another useful tool is the online alumnae/i network, which allows you to contact other Sarah Lawrence grads in your field and get inside answers about their experiences, research a city you might relocate to, and maybe even secure some job referrals. Current SLC students are also welcome to use the network to investigate possible careers. Sign up at http://www2.monstertrak.com/students/unreg/contact.html.
Then, stay in touch: One of Raymond’s favorite things about her job is the contact she has with former students long after they’ve left SLC.