To be, or not to be, employed

We job seekers are lamenting the state of affairs in Oregon. High unemployment rates, fears stoked by recent reports in the Oregonian that our state’s Silicon Forest is being felled by advances in Chinese industry, and the recent defeat of Measure 28 add gloom to the sectors of the economy that care for the poor, differently abled and mentally ill.

Contrast this with the chirping and smiling that will confront you when you enter Career Information Day, organized by the well-organized and greatly admired Portland State Career Center.

It seems almost ironic to actually face a job market in such doldrums. But as the Career Center will tell you – and, hopefully, the 60-plus participants at the Career Information Day – there are still jobs to be had after graduation. Gone are the days, though, where sophomores in college were stolen into the Internet revolution: $60,000 a year at 21 years of age and no need and no concern for a “degree.” Universities laughed last, and now students are returning to college in droves. PSU’s enrollment has never been higher.

Receiving an education has become the primary avenue for improving one’s chances in this moody economy. In that sense, you are on your way. Realistically, job hunting will be a little more desperate. But if you are well organized, maintain reasonable expectations and focus on specific occupation goals (end of sentence? Can’t find Jason.)

For example, a well-organized job seeker will maintain a list of all resumes sent, contacts made, and follow-up times and calls logged. The successful candidate maintains reasonable expectations and doesn’t dwell on the failures; there are no failures, it is all a learning experience, right? Honestly, this is a hard mantra to remember when you fling yourself across the bed at the end of a day of humiliating job hunting. Don’t be discouraged. The employer who doesn’t hire you is not an employer you want to hire you!

Most importantly, every company contacted informed the Vanguard that the potential employee should investigate the company thoroughly: Know what the company’s goals are, what their economic performance has been and what challenges they face. Investigate the job you are applying for – its limits, its opportunities and its overall place in the structure of the company.

Focusing on specific occupational goals will save you a lot of time and emotional energy. Sure, you could do those other jobs, but is grudging acceptance really a qualification?

Focus on the specific requirements for the sector of employment that is most appealing to you and tailor your resume and interview performance with this in mind. Showing up for an interview early is essential, but no more than 10 minutes. When you do land that interview, be candid but cautious. Listen and ask questions that you have realized before hand (after your thorough investigation of the company).