New Grad Job Stats - A Wakeup Call

by Geoffrey Roth

New government figures on unemployment show that even though general employment figures are getting better, times are still tough for recent college grads. A story in the Los Angeles Times shows that the unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds rose to 16% in November, up four-tenths of a percent.

It means competition for those entry-level jobs is tougher than ever, and you have to stay on top of your game, not rest for a minute, and use every resource at your disposal to find that first job.

Whenever I see articles like the one in the LA Times, they always have examples of good students who have been trying and trying to get a job. Usually you read that the job seeker did land one or two interviews, but didn't get the job. What does that mean? It means someone else did get the job. And that means, the person who did get the job did a better job of selling themselves, presenting themselves, and convincing the company he or she was the best person for the job.

I always wonder what that person who can't find a job is doing wrong. Did they work on finding contacts inside a company to help them get a leg up? Did they research the company before going in for the interview so they could ask intelligent questions? Are they limiting themselves geographically so that the job pool is too small?

A couple of months ago I read an article in the New York Times about 24-year-old twins who recently graduated from Rutgers and were trying to find jobs in the communications/news field in New York, without much luck. I rarely feel compelled to send in a comment about newspaper stories I read, but with this one I could not resist.

Here is what I wrote:

It appears that Kristy and Katie have limited themselves to finding jobs in the New York metro area. As a 30-year veteran in the news business, the first advice I can give them is "widen your search". The news business is highly competitive, and if they truly want to work in the business, they will probably have to follow the path that most of us have followed; start in a small place and work your way up.

Check out the article and read a lot of the comments that were sent in. People talked about their recently-graduated children who moved wherever it took, and often took two or three part time jobs in their field just to get a foot in the door and gain experience.

There ARE jobs out there. You just have to be willing to do what it takes to get that first job and then move up.

Geoff Roth is a former TV news manager now teaching journalism at Hofstra University. He has hired hundreds of people and counseled both professionals and students as they hunt for jobs. Geoff is chronicling life after TV News at

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