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The Only Measurement that Matters

It's May, and most people will tell you that it is college graduation season. I will tell you that it is actually “measurement season”. Like clockwork, every May, we see a flood of information on three key anxiety inducing statistics:

#1 - College Graduations: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, this spring over 3.9 million of your peers will be graduating from post-secondary institutions. That’s a lot of competition entering the job market looking for the first job or career.

#2 – Labor Market Surveys: The US Department of Labor report released earlier this month shows that unemployment has reached a record low of 3.9%. That low unemployment rate is good news for 2018 college graduates. There are a lot of jobs out there and a lot of companies looking to fill entry level positions. So, the job market is “hot”. If that is true, then why are almost 70% of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree graduating without a full time offer of employment?

#3 – LinkedIn Profile Updates: If you have set up an account on LinkedIn, established an initial profile and started to connect with your peers, that is an excellent first step in your job search. But as April turns to May and May turns to June, your daily LinkedIn news feed begins to fill with posts from your peers along the lines of “Excited to announce I have accepted a position”. Of course, you are happy for them. But it is only natural to also think “What about me”.

This powerful combination of college graduations, a hot job market and the success of your peers can drive you take out your ruler and measure yourself against the market and your friends. But I will tell you that is the wrong measurement to take. The only measurement that matters is…you. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating for complacency. You have a college degree in hand and likely student loan payments starting in about 6 months. The time is now to start your job search and the search process itself is a full-time job. And one that needs a detailed plan. But how long it takes you to find that first job, where you choose to work and what position you elect to take…only you decide if that measures up to your own personal ruler.

Understand that your first job will be just that, your first job. Over the course of your lifetime career, you will likely have 15 or more jobs spanning multiple disciplines. The point is to just jump in and get started or as Nike says, “Just Do It”. Your first job may not be perfect. It for certain will not be your forever job. Remember that early on in a career, you will be paid in equal parts salary and experience. And I would argue that in your first couple of jobs, the latter (experience) is the more valuable of the two components of your pay. For some additional perspective, read this recent article from the Chicago Tribune which offers some life and career observations from several established business leaders.

If you are open to it, please take a final word of advice from this road warrior. I started as an HR manager in a soap manufacturing plant. Worked as a professional recruiter. Got an MBA in Finance. Failed as a corporate financial analyst. Crushed it as a sales rep and sales manager. Led a marketing organization. Retired and now occupy my days as a career coach. That’s 15+ jobs over 36 years. And I wouldn’t change a thing. The journey and the ride are what matters. So, get on your bike and start your own ride!

Dan Troup is the founder of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a certified career coach can assist you in your job search, please contact AdvantEdge Careers at:


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