The Experience Conundrum

“Discouraged” writes:
I recently graduated from graphic-design school; this was to be my new career! But I’m having difficulty finding a job. It seems everyone I apply with wants practical experience. Well my question is: How do I get the much needed experience unless someone will hire me?
Help! I’ve exhausted every source of income to complete my studies now I must find work even if it’s out of my chosen field.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.

The Career Doctor responds:
I’m sorry you’re having such troubles finding employment. Of course with the economy where it has been you are certainly not alone in your troubles. The good news overall is that the economy appears to be picking up steam and there are strong reports of businesses again hiring new workers.
In your case before you give up and take a job outside your field I would suggest a couple of possibilities.
First get on the phone to your graphic-design school and demand help with placement. More and more all higher education and trade schools are realizing that they are being held accountable for the placement record of their graduates. So call the placement office and demand some help in finding a job. They won’t be able to hand a job offer to you but they should be able to counsel you in methods to improve your job-search.
Second I would have a career professional evaluate your entire job-search plan. Are you not even bothering to apply to job openings or write direct mail campaigns because you fear — or assume — that all employers want practical experience? Didn’t you complete projects apprenticeships or other types of experience while in design school? Don’t discount work completed while in school. How is your resume? Your cover letter? Are you networking and being proactive or are you simply responding to job ads and being reactive? I strongly recommend you read this article: Ten Questions to Ask Yourself if You Still Haven’t Found a Job.
Third I suggest that you consider looking into temping — as a graphic designer. Contact the temp agencies near where you live and see if any of them place graphic artists. If so apply to them immediately! Be sure to check out these temping resources.
Fourth I would look into posting your credentials and putting in bids at one or more of the freelancing job sites. Like temping freelancing may not be a permanent solution for you but if you truly have no practical experience freelancing may be the way to bulk up your resume. Go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Jobs for Consultants Freelancers and Gurus.
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