The Myth of the Guaranteed Job

Editor’s note: This was written by Sam Peters, who also writes for a new blog, Sam recently published an article on about how job seekers can find jobs on Twitter.

These days graduates everywhere are discovering that there is no such thing as the guaranteed job. Getting a degree from a top-notch school, having a friend of the friend of the CEO, interning for a company for a year—these used to be tried and true methods for landing a solid job with upward mobility and benefits. Throw in a historic recession and the collapse of several economic engines and the picture isn’t quite the same. Unemployment rates are high, competition is fierce, and companies aren’t looking to hook people up because of ‘entitlements’ anymore. The people who may hire you are themselves worried about job security. They can’t take risks on presumptions of quality, such as paper degrees and a wife’s cousin’s friend.

That’s why people searching for jobs need to take extra measures now. Engage in some reputation repair so that your online presence won’t be tainted with comedy sketches you made in college. Learn new software skills, become proficient in social media, make yourself a jack-of-all-trades. If you can pitch yourself to multiple company niches, it’s far more likely someone will want to bring you on board. They’re thinking, “Well, even if he/she doesn’t work out in this department, we can move ‘em on over to another department, because there are skills here to be molded and utilized.”

The myth of the guaranteed job was at one time not a myth at all, but a reality. In the past, getting a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from a good school did pretty much guarantee you a fairly legitimate job directly out of school. Your degree acted as a sort of resume, a calling card. These days, employers are looking for people with work experience, so even if you have a good degree, it’s better to have internship experience as well.

There was a time when a solid internship alone was enough to land a job. Now, unfortunately, more and more companies are unable to guarantee their interns future jobs with the company and, worse, many of them simply use the ‘intern’ handle as a way to get free labor. This isn’t an across-the-board trend, but it’s certainly something to consider when you decide investing time into an internship. At the very least, look closely at the company and dig a little bit into their history.

It’s not time to despair. Yes, it’s harder to get a job than it used to be, especially for college graduates and even people with Masters and PhDs. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Nor does it mean there aren’t things you can do to bolster your standing. Get proactive about your employment reputation and build a solid foundation.

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