3 Career Planning Tips for 2010 Liberal Arts Graduates

As a 2010 liberal arts graduate, you might think that your best career planning strategy would be to move back with your parents.  Indeed, all you have heard all year is how awful the job market is.  You also might have been reading about how liberal arts education is useless to prepare you for the 'real' world.  After reading all of this, it is hard to believe that there are opportunities out there, and that as a liberal arts graduate you can add tremendous value to an employer.  Maybe you find that you would rather move back with you parents than working for a company that you can't believe in? After all, even if you win the rat race, you will still be a rat, so why even enter the race?

The good news is that in this economy, there are more common good jobs available, and these jobs can help you build a career that successfully blends financial return with social impact and environmental responsibility.  Opportunities with companies and organizations that truly make a difference might not be as visible than those available with other companies, but they are out there.  Here are three specific steps to get started in your responsible job search (and avoid moving back with your parents):

Career Planning Tip #1: People get hired everyday - Fewer jobs are available at big corporations.  But there are many opportunities available in socially responsible businesses, as well as in the non-profit sectors, and in government.  100% of people who get hired have applied for these jobs.  Therefore, your first step is to get in the running by sending a tailored resume and cover letter for jobs that are of interest to you.  To find jobs in socially responsible businesses, see the Justmeans job board (over 1,000 live jobs and internships have been added since May 1).  For non-profit jobs, see www.idealist.org (as of today, 6,000 live jobs are available).  For government jobs, see www.usajobs.gov, as well as jobs available through the different agencies (remember only 5% of federal jobs are located in DC).

Career Planning Tip #2: Your major does not define you - No matter what major you graduated with, you have transferable skills that make you a valuable and employable candidate.  A fun way to go beyond defining yourself as a specific major is to conduct a search on your alma mater alumni database by major.  This will enable you to find out what types of careers people with the same major as you have built.  Who knows, one of these alumni might have a career that can be of interest to you, and you could get on the phone with this person to learn more about his/her career transitions.  Learning more about these paths will increase your confidence and enable you to revisit the value of your education.

Career Planning Tip #3: Sign up for job search agents - Not seeing something does not mean that something does not exist.  Not finding jobs online does not mean that no jobs exist.  You can take quick action to find jobs faster by creating job agents.  Job agents are online interfaces that enable you to input your preferences (e.g. geographic preference, functional preference, issues you want to work on).  Job agents search job boards automatically, and send jobs that meet your criteria directly to your email.  Job agents are a great way to identify opportunities that match your preferences faster.  Job agents can be found on the Justmeans job board, on the idealist.org job board, as well as on the usajobs.gov job board.  Also if you are a member of Net Impact, they also have a job agent option that might be of help. Finally, jobs with Benefit Corporations are also available through their website.  Once you identify jobs, see our tips on how to interpret job postings.

Your first job search might be tougher than it was for previous liberal arts graduates, but at the same time, there are more opportunities today to do well while doing good, so go for it and participate in the change you want to see by getting a job at a company or organization you believe in!

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