As a recent grad who is looking for my first real job in a market that quite frankly sucks, I've become an avid follower of your blog.
I have a bachelor's in Business Administration from a private university. Not exactly ivy league, but respectable nonetheless. My professional experience is limited to just over one year doing administrative tasks as part of my work study scholarship and a three-month international trade internship at a U.S. embassy abroad.
It seems like every job description (besides those entailing telemarketing) requires substantial experience. I was even told by one recruiter, "I don't doubt you're a smart girl, but you just don't have the experience." My question is, what options do I have in terms of my first job? It's frustrating applying for positions that I don't have a shot at, but at the same time, I want to gain some valuable experience.
I've been applying mostly for marketing assistant and sales/marketing positions. My concentration is in international business, but I've yet to find anything promising with an international twist. Also, I should forewarn you that the career placement office at my university is shamefully substandard and thus offered me little direction in terms of career options.
Thanks for whatever advice you might be able to offer!
This does suck.
A job market like this one is bad enough regardless, but having very light experience is posing an extra obstacle for you (and many, many others) because you're competing for the same jobs with people who have more experience.
First, a quick tangent that won't help you now but will help others still in school: Do internships every semester you can, so that you have work experience on your resume. Paid, unpaid, whatever it takes.
Okay, back to you. It feels like a catch-22, of course; how are you supposed to get experience when no one will hire you without it? There are actually two time-tested ways to do exactly that:
1. Temp. By temping, you'll get additional experience to put on your resume. It also has the added benefit of giving you an inside track for upcoming job openings wherever you're temping.
2. Volunteer. At a minimum, it will give you more experience to put on your resume. And it may also expand your network of people who can assist in your job search. (It will also make you feel good.)
So you're temping and/or volunteering and putting it on your resume. Meanwhile, you should also:
1. Expand the types of jobs you're looking at. I'm curious about why you're focusing on marketing positions. There's a whole world of other interesting work out there -- broaden your search to include other types of work, and you'll raise your odds. (Relatedly, be flexible on salary and location. You're not locking yourself in forever.)
2. Go for quality over quantity with your applications. This may feel counter-intuitive, but a smaller number of really well-done applications is going to get you better results than a generic resume blast to 100 places. This means, at a minimum, a cover letter that is tailored to each position you apply for. (And I mean really tailored -- at least several fresh paragraphs per job, not just plugging in the name of the company.) Read this post on cover letters. And read this one too.
And don't be afraid to show a bit of personality in your cover letter; hiring managers read so many dry cover letters all day long that coming across one that sounds like a real person, and one you might enjoy talking to, can really make a difference.
3. Be willing to pay your dues, meaning be open to low-level jobs that might have a decent amount of drudgery to them. (Nothing about your letter indicated you're not, but I want to emphasize this.) Take on the on menial stuff and do a good job with it, and eventually someone is going to let you do something more interesting.
You will get a job eventually, by the way. Hang in there, and good luck!