The unemployment rate is higher for young people than for any other age group. In addition, employers that, in the past, were the top companies for entry level candidates are reducing the number of new hires this year.
What can you do in a tough job market? First of all, don't panic. Secondly, don't limit yourself to the career you thought you were going to have. What sounded like a great career on Wall Street a couple of years ago, probably doesn't seem like such a good option at the moment. The same holds true for many other industries and career fields. That's why it's important to consider a variety of alternatives, rather than limiting yourself to the types of jobs you expected to find easily.
Think Outside the Entry Level Box
Take some time to think outside the entry level career path box. Traditional career paths, like corporate management training programs, may still be feasible. However, it's important to look at alternatives, as well. Now is a good time to explore options and consider what it is you would really like to do - if you could.
A down job market can be an ideal time to spend some time doing something different, something you always wanted to do, or something that was never in your plans. It could include volunteering, doing an internship to gain additional experience, or even staying in school.
Use Your Transferable Skills
When the economy has trashed your plans for starting your career, the first step is to consider alternatives that make better sense in a down job market. Visit your college career services office. The staff can help you review options, find opportunities, and connect you with alumni who have been there and done that to get an inside perspective on the alternatives you are considering.
Use online career tests and tools to get some ideas about career paths that will get you to the career alternatives you're considering.
Visit the entry level job sites for job listings and information on companies that are hiring.
Volunteer Your Time
The one thing you'll have after graduation is time - consider donating some of it. There are opportunities to give back to society and to earn enough to help pay the bills. Volunteer.gov has a searchable database of volunteer opportunities and partners with organizations like the Peace Corps, for international volunteer opportunities, and AmeriCorps for national volunteer jobs.
You won't get rich volunteering, but depending on the program, you may get a stipend to cover living expenses, deferment or forgiveness of student loans, and, in all cases, you'll get valuable experience for the future.
Go Back to a Classroom
There are a variety of educational nonprofit organizations that hire college graduates, including Teach for America, Citizen Schools, MATCH Corps, and City Year. You don't have to be a certified teacher - training is provided, and the commitment is typically a year or two. These jobs can be challenging, especially for someone who hasn't set foot in a classroom other than as a student. However, these programs have triggered a new career path for many of those who have worked at them. In addition, you'll get a paycheck and benefits.
If you've always wanted to work abroad, now is a good time to try it. Visas and employment regulations can be complicated, but there are organizations you can go through that will assist you with the process and place you in a work or volunteer position. BUNAC, for example, sponsors work abroad programs for American students and recent graduates to work in Australia, New Zealand, France, Ireland, and Canada. There are also country specific programs, like the JET Programme for Japan and the Cultural Assistants program in Spain, that are designed for U.S. candidates who are interested in an international experience.
Consider an Internship
Internships aren't just for current students. A post graduate internship can be an ideal way to bolster your resume and to get additional work experience. Visit About.com's Internships site for lots of advice on finding an internship opportunity.
Consider seasonal work, as well. If you time it right, you could spend winter on the ski slopes and summer at the beach. You'll be able earn a paycheck and have fun working with other young people and living the resort life. CoolWorks is a terrific resource for finding seasonal jobs.
Stay in School
Another alternative is to stay in school. Many graduate programs are already filled for the fall, but you may want to consider taking classes, seminars, or workshops that will supplement your degree and bolster your resume.
Keep in mind, too, that even though the job market is not what you expected, there are options available for entry level job seekers. Consider this as a journey to find a career path, rather than a stumbling block.