I'm writing this letter for my generation... for my friends, roommates, epoch, what have you, who are on the precipice of what adults would call 'adulthood'. Since my graduation from undergraduate college, my life has been filled with wanted ads, Craigslist posts, Monster.com profiles and resume-writing, all in search of you, an entry level employer. Your presence is what fuels every college career fair, resume workshop and self-imposed library-lockdown. You make it so that without you, the last four (or five, depending on who you ask) years are seen as a waste by everyone outside of my generation.
Entry-level job, I won't comment on where I am in my search for one of you (this blog has to keep something private). Everywhere I look, my friends are essentially losing their wills to live their dreams because they have to look for one of you. Whether it's to pay off college loans, placate parents, or just so that we're not in line at the soup kitchen, if we don't have one of you, times get rough.
In this economy opportunities are running slim, not to make that a scapegoat. Yet, our prospects can't help but make us dismal. We can go to events and send cover letters for eternity, but the fact is, the average unemployed citizen stays that way for nine months. For graduates that's a double strike. Not having years of experience over older job-seekers. That might make you wary of hiring us. It can be a strenuous process on both sides. Even so, we both have to be fair to one another. That said, here are some pointers:
1. I will not be losing my soul to one of you. Call it what you want, whether it be career exasperation, quarter-life crises or cognitive dissonance, your emergence leads to a crossroads of sorts: whether to continue following some semblance of 'going after my dreams' or to join the ranks of the employed with one of you. While most of my compatriots take the latter road, and find themselves burned out by a decent-paying job that they hate, I vow to leave if ever I feel the same way. It's not you, It's me. These days, no one is happy at their job. The recession made it so that people have to take on positions that they wouldn't normally take on, just to make ends meet. Yes, the poorhouse sucks. But I'd rather take my chances than go bald and have an aneurism at 24 due to work related stress and depression. Wouldn't you rather have the right employee for the position, who feels vindicated by it, than an unhappy laborer who can't wait for 5:00?
2. I am not expendable. As much as college graduates outnumber the Israelites on the way to Canaan, that doesn't mean that we are all the same. Nor does it mean that one graduate is the same as the next. Take the time to learn that. Generic postings such as 'high GPA needed', 'top college', 'go-getter', and 'high achiever' are like trying to sell fake iPods at a flea market in China. Stop trying to cast a wide net so that every graduate with a pulse will apply to you, and tailor yourself so that we know what we are getting into. Like I said, I am not expendable and you should treat me as such. I have ideas, cool stories and probably more expertise on a computer a lot of entire office. Regardless of how many rolodexes you have filled and continuing education seminars you've hosted, you can't possibly have potential that I (as a younger, more technologically adept employee) will have. Know that. Believe that. Understand that I will be in your position soon. Do you really want to be the employer that undervalued the college graduate with the 'next big idea'?
3. Pay me! No seriously, pay me. Please. Do you see what's going on in the news? The rich and huge corporations are making a killing and have been doing so for the past decade. I know your (probably) corporate bank account has more commas than an English sonnet. That comes with the territory of a lot more employers than before. Stop trying to reel us in with promises of 'Great commissions' and 'Incentive-based pay'. No. For all of the 'not-in-the-job-description' caliber work that I will most likely be entrusted with, it behooves you to pay me what I am worth, especially if I'm doing my job well. The bottom of the pyramid makes it so that the point can look good. Underpaying your employees, especially entry-level ones makes it so that YOU are the expendable ones. Tired of employee turnover in the lower rungs? Stop paying recent graduates peppercorns and give us an incentive to want to stay with one of you.
4. Make the job at least worth talking about. Account Executives, Account Associates, Executive Associates... They all do the SAME thing: get business for whatever firm in question. At this juncture in the economy, jobs are like Dunder-Mifflin paper: maybe not the same, but all serve the same function. Yes, pay is important. But what is your company doing to make it jump out at ME? Is there travel involved? Are there company outings? Firmwide streaking? Health benefits? Networking events? Happy hours? Take your pet rock to work day? Anything? Do something to make that 9-5 seem a little shorter. There's nothing worse that a job that offers nothing but work. In that case, the employees usually offer the bare minimum too. That company might not be around for much longer.
I think those are fair. Like I said, I won't remark on where I am in my job search, but I will be looking for one of you that fulfills those four needs. Maybe those aren't even as specific to you, as they are to jobs in general. We know it's a recession. That doesn't mean jobs have to become these lifeless, dreadful places that you want to leave as soon as you walk in.
Entry-level employer, I can guarantee you that I'm a top-notch employee with a track record to improve it. It's just that you guys aren't what you're hyped up to be, and signal a serious crossroads in our lives. In our complex journey for self-actualization, and as a recent graduate, your appeal has to be more than a salary. My greatest fear in life is having my paycheck be my bane, and I'm sure I can find 100 other grads thinking the same thing. They don't call us 'the Future' for nothing. We'll work. We'll slave. We'll blow your company up. (in the best way possible) Think of it as the 'it' that makes the salary not even register in our minds, the quid pro quo that makes both of us happy. I'll hold up my end of the bargain. Will you?