Career Resources

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seniors: Do you have your list of reach, match and safety companies?

I clearly remember those angst-ridden days of helping my daughters with their college applications and anxiously awaiting the arrival of those admissions decision letters. I even went so far as to track down every mail truck in our home town one day because I knew my daughter's decision letter was in the mail! The college application process has become a rite of passage and, given the large demographic pool of candidates over the last few years versus the number of acceptances at universities, this process has become an extremely stressful one where students are applying to at least ten colleges. As most high school seniors know, their list of schools should contain a well-balanced mix of reach, match and safety schools.

However, I have noticed that many college seniors do not take this same approach when applying for jobs. Some want the big name companies and only the big name companies. I think this is partly due a strong sense of competitiveness or because it's easy to apply just to the corporate brands that quickly come to mind. Students often fail to realize that there are many, many other great companies that have full-time job postings that would be an excellent starting point in their careers. I think that some students are still stuck in the college application mode, i.e., if they don't get into their dream company after graduation, then they are doomed for life. Yes, going to college is a one-time event that can never be changed so it is critical that students put so much effort into getting accepted into the right one for them. However, getting a job is not a one-time event. Your first job out of college is only one in a series of many. The average person will have 15 jobs over the course of a lifetime and will switch careers about five times. Certainly, students need to strive for their dream jobs but they should also temper those dreams with a dose of reality and apply to companies that are more match or safety companies.

Students need to also remember that it’s not so much about the name of the company you work at but what you will be doing at that company. There are some really awesome jobs at the mid-size and smaller companies which offer new graduates the opportunity to learn, grow and explore more than they might in a larger company where their jobs may have a more narrowly defined focus.

By taking a more well-balanced approach to the job search, students may be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities at companies they hadn't even considered and will greatly increase their chances of landing a terrific job after graduation.

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