How College Graduates Will Be Affected By a RecessionSeptember 20, 2022
According to recent National Association for Business Economics research, 19% of top economists believe that the U.S. is already in recession, and another 73% assume a recession will likely occur in the next 1.5 years. For 2023 college graduates, this news is somewhat bleak. And to make matters worse, a Stanford study highlighted that graduating during a recession is linked to lower income growth overall and higher death rates in middle age.
While graduating during a recession might present more challenges than graduating during a period of economic health, the news isn’t all bad. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that will improve your likelihood of finding professional and personal success despite the unlucky timing of your graduation.
Here’s what to know about graduating college during a recession and how to overcome related obstacles.
How Recession Effects New College Graduates
During rosy economic times, jobs are plentiful, and unemployment rates are low. But during a recession, the opposite might be true. As a new grad, finding a job during a recession can be tricky, especially in industries like tech, where layoffs are widespread.
If you are graduating during a recession, it can be helpful to adjust your expectations. Understand that it may take longer to get a job and that you might not be able to be as selective about your first role. This doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually find your dream job, just that you might not get it fresh out of college.
6 Steps to Take to Improve Your Situation
A down economy can make it more challenging to find a job. But fortunately, there are steps that will improve your chances of success, even if you’re graduating during a recession. Here are some helpful tips.
1. Contact Career Services
Consider taking advantage of all that career services offer while you’re still in school. There are likely networking events you could attend in your future field, and you may be able to get resume help and interview coaching as well. Accessing these services before you graduate could give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
2. Build Your Professional Network
In addition to getting help from career services, focus on building your professional network as a college student. If you attend a networking event, ask for business cards and make connections on LinkedIn. Getting your name out there can be helpful when you’re looking for a job. You might even meet a professional mentor who can offer guidance as you start your career.
3. Look Outside the Box Geographically
During a recession, you may also need to look outside the box geographically to find a job that fits. If you’re open to moving, consider roles in locations that look appealing to you. If you’d prefer to stay put, look into companies that offer remote opportunities. Doing so will help you expand your options, even if the company is located in a different state or country.
4. Focus on Your Mental and Physical Health
Graduating during a recession is linked to some poor health outcomes in middle age, so focusing on your mental and physical health is key. While the economy can make things challenging, do what you can to stay healthy and maintain a positive outlook. And remember that just because things may be tough now doesn’t mean they will be forever.
5. Redefine Your Timeline
Perhaps you’ve always told yourself you’ll make $90,000 by age 25, or maybe you’ve always thought you’d own your own home by age 23. A recession can interfere with your professional and personal goals, and redefining your timeline can help you feel less overwhelmed or pressured. Recognize that you may not reach your goals in your self-established timeline, and that’s OK.
6. Accept Less Than Your Dream Job
Maybe you are set on getting your dream job as a new graduate, but that might not be realistic during a recession. Instead of holding out for your dream job, consider a role at a good company that might not be ideal but will still make you happy. Accepting a decent job, rather than your dream job, can help you get your start professionally.
And remember, you don’t need to stay with the same company forever. Once the economy improves, you could resume your search for your dream job. Or you might be pleasantly surprised that you love your current job and don’t want to leave.
The timing is definitely unlucky if you’re graduating college during a recession. And while it’s been linked to poor earning potential and health issues, there are steps you can take to improve your situation. Doing so can help you overcome the personal and professional obstacles recession graduates sometimes face.