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The new paths to employment

By Tom Brady | The New York Times | Updated: 2013-04-21 07:49

 The new paths to employment

Recent college graduates have more realistic expectations about what a job can provide than their parents' generation, one entrepreneur says. Mike Segar / Reuters

The fallout from the economic crises that started in 2008 is still felt by those who have had trouble keeping their careers afloat or recent college graduates who have found the route to meaningful work littered with obstacles.

To Cliff Oxford, the founder of Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs, there is an upside for those starting out. He calls this group the "Great Recession graduates, new employees who were born into the new reality," he wrote on a blog in The Times.

Unlike their parents, who may have entertained multiple job offers and qualified for regular bonuses and raises for showing up, this new generation of workers has markedly different expectations.

College graduates from the last five years have the upper hand in interviewing with fast-growth companies where most new jobs are created, Mr. Oxford believes. "When I interview recent graduates, I sometimes feel as though I am talking to my dad, who lived through the Great Depression and never really got over it," he wrote.

Many of these graduates stayed at home and worked their way through college because a downturn in family finances forced them to bypass their dreams of going away to school and living on their own. They are hungrier, and more than willing to compromise, unlike the generation whose careers coincided with flush times.

"They have been hardened for what is still a tough economy in which to expand a company or be hired," Mr. Oxford wrote. "I don't think having a bring-your-dog-to-work day is high on their list, and there is no pushback on wearing business attire, either. Also, they do not have a lot of outside obligations that take them in and out of work."

Of course, it's no mean trick to finagle an interview when some employers don't even post jobs, but are just searching online for candidates.

Those without an Internet presence don't stand much of a chance, career counselors warn. They recommend that job seekers list their skills and experience on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, and make sure their names will pop up during Web searches.

"Having a blog can be a good way to show that you are a thought leader," Barbara Safani, owner of a career management firm in New York, told The Times. And posting videos of yourself giving a speech or a training presentation on YouTube can give you greater visibility, and searchability.

Those who have been jobless for a while need all the help they can get. Economists say that the recession caused many to lose touch with the working world.

"The long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people don't have access to the network," Mara Swan, a vice president for global strategy and talent at Manpower Group, which places temporary workers, told The Times. "The more you've been out of the work force, the weaker your connections are."

The Times reported some companies are looking to get half their new workers from internal referrals, and a few offer prizes like iPads and large-screen televisions to those employees who help find them. So keeping up with former colleagues is vital for job seekers.

No matter how you land a job, be ready to perform, executives urge.

"These Great Recession graduates are perfect players in fast-growth companies," Mr. Oxford wrote, "where a hunger to work and a will to win override the need for entitlements, praise and corner offices."

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