I Just Want a Job, Any Job!

Recently my office sponsored a one-day seminar on how to conduct an effective job search for recent graduates.

While interacting with the students, I was troubled by some of their responses to this question:

“So…what type of job are you looking for?”

Regardless of their major or past experience, nearly every student responded, “I just want a job, any job.”

Granted, the seminar was held the week after graduation and, in a typical year at my institution, a great majority of soon-to-be graduates secure employment well before graduation. I understand their anxiety about not having a job yet. However, appearing desperate is certainly not the way to get a job. Plus, do you really want just any old job?

If you enjoy meeting new people and building relationships on a regular basis, you certainly would not enjoy a position in a cubicle analyzing data for eight hours a day. Just the same, if you like analyzing data and are skilled at paying attention to minor details but do not enjoy interacting regularly with new people, it might be safe to say you would not be successful in a sales position.

(Hopefully, you are starting to realize why, “I just want a job,” is not only a poor answer but simply not true.)

The last thing a potential employer wants to hear is that you want any job. To be successful in your job search – and while networking during your job search – you will surely encounter this question. Let’s give some thought to how you should respond.

1. Eliminate the idea that you have to answer this question with an actual job title.

If you graduated with a chemical engineering degree, a response like, “Well, I think I’d like a position as a chemical engineer,” is likely not the best response either. Plus, chemical engineers do anything from improving food processing techniques, to refining petroleum products and developing synthetic fibers for the clothes we wear.

2. Take into account your skills and interests.

Start by making a list of your top 3 skills. If you have developed your personal brand or utilized an elevator pitch, you should have a grasp on your skills. If you paused when you read the last two sentences to think, “Hmm…what are my skills?”, you have work to do.

Give some thought to the skills you have developed at internships and part-time jobs, and through academic coursework or being involved in student organizations. You will want to ensure the skills you choose to feature align with what employers want as well.

3. Identify your career interests.

What industry or field do you want to work in? What type of company (large or small; corporate, non-profit, academic or research and development; start-up or Fortune 500) do you want to work at? If you aren’t sure, spend some time  researching companies and reviewing job postings to get a better idea.

Once you have determined what skills you want to emphasize and which career interests you want to pursue, you will be able to answer this question with clarity and confidence.

Take a stab at it by leaving a comment to answer the question, “What kind of job are you looking for?”


Claudine is a Career Services Consultant for the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The CCO is a centralized career services office which provides Claudine the opportunity to connect with students, alumni, and employers on a daily basis. Among other things, Claudine provides career and major counseling to students and alumni, assists employers with achieving their recruitment goals at Purdue, and oversees the institution’s post-graduation survey. Her interests include service-learning, diversity initiatives, and leadership development which led her to start a career development and leadership academy for freshmen and sophomore students. Originally from the state of Ohio, Claudine received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Bowling Green State University and completed her graduate studies at The University of Toledo in Higher Education Administration. Since she is a social media addict, Claudine would love to connect with you on twitter or LinkedIn.

Related posts:

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  2. Ethics in the Job Search
  3. Top 10 Things Companies Look For When Making Hiring Decisions: Part 2

20 Responses to “I Just Want a Job, Any Job!”

  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    To whom it may concern,
    I am a recent Purdue graduate (December 2009) and I had no problem finding a job. I did work with Claudine and I can firmly agree with her about all of the possible responses to the question. I do not believe this blog is Claudine’s way of making her feel less responsible. I think it is a nice way of expressing how moronic it sounds for someone to say “I want any job.” Students don’t go to school to get ANY job, there is a reason for degrees. Maybe students saying this need to be a little more creative and a little less lazy. Of course students won’t get their dream job right out of school because they are students, but it’s their responsibility to do research and find possible paths to get there.
    Hopefully you know, Jack, you are responsible for your own actions and achievements. Perhaps students are relying a little too much on their mentors than learning to make a name for themselves.
    Anyone can get a job if they work for it, but just because you have a degree does not grant you a great salary right out of school or years later. You have to start somewhere and it sounds like, for student or 30 year olds with Jack’s attitude, it will be at the very bottom. Lack of experience aside, you have to work for what you want.

  2. avatar NJ says:


    There are many people who share your frustration with the job market. Whether it is a person with several years of valuable work experience, a recent graduate with excellent grades or a person just trying to get by – they are all affected. The events that unfolded to cause the current economic situation were, unfortunately, out of most people’s control. So, it is unfair to misplace your frustrations on Claudine and her office. She is in no way “responsible” for the unemployment rate. Her job is to counsel and that is what she has done with this blog. I worked at Claudine’s office part-time for three years. It is not the responsibility of a career center or a career counselor to get people jobs or to fix the economy. They are there to guide you through your job search and help you identify your path. You are feeling the repercussions of the ill-decisions of several large corporations and politicians.

    It is best that we don’t have a sense of entitlement or have an inflated sense of place in the universe. External factors take their course through life and we just have to re-adjust and deal with them.

  3. avatar Kelsey Begle says:

    I myself to can attest to how much Claudine truly DOES care about others and will bend over backwards to go above and beyond what is necessary to help out anyone seeking guidance. I am one of those students who comes into her office “day after day” and I have never once felt a hint of carelessness from her. She would never try to take a short-cut or make herself “feel less responsible for the number of students who come in your office day after day after day”. I always feel like an individual, rather than a bothersome student when I talk to her. She in no way views us a just a job or another nuisance.

    I realize that it can be very frustrating when nothing you try seems to be working. That’s exactly why, as Claudine mentioned, it’s always helpful to step back and think about what you truly want. Not only will this show that you truly care about the jobs that you are seeking when you talk to employers, but it also gives you something to work toward. It is obviously more beneficial to have specific goals when you want to accomplish something. Claudine clearly realizes this and is just taking advantage of an opportunity to help others even more than expected of her–as she always does. Being open to new ideas and techniques is highly beneficial. Never be afraid to take a new approach and see where it may take you.

  4. Hey,

    I am a student and I work with Claudine in her office. My comment on this blog might again be of irrelevance to you as you are much ahead than I am, by age and by experience. But trust me, Claudine has one and only one aim, that is of helping every single student that turns to her for any kind of advice. She did not write this blog to cunningly put the blame on us, the job seekers, but to encourage students to not loose hope. In the present, it is really hard to get a job in the desired field, and it is legitimate to get frustrated and seek any job that comes our way and would help us pay our bills. But in the end the question comes down to “do we really want to work that way?” “is it really something that we have studied for?” “is this really my dream?” It is always good to have a side plan and something that will help us to live our life till we fulfill our dream, but this should not discourage us from searching further. Optimism and perseverance are the key to attaining our goal. And Claudine just tried to give you some tips in that direction. In the end, I would leave just one quote for you from the movie shawshank redemption, “hope is a good thing, and no good thing dies.”

    Feel free to comment.

    Thank you,
    Parul Schroff

  5. I know it can be very frustrating not being able to find a job, I’m worried about finding one myself after graduation. However, criticizing someone who is only trying to help is not going to help the situation. This information may be more useful to some more than others due to different majors and circumstances. Claudine is just trying to give advise from an employer’s point of view.

  6. avatar Darkitec says:

    This all sounds good and well but after 2 and 1/2 years of searching for something in my field I’ve run out of time. I’ve spent all of my savings, I’ve sold everything I can sell, My house, My second car, My furniture, CD’S, movies. I’ve cashed in my life insurance and getting ready to cash out the 401K, I need a job, any fricking job to pay my medical and credit card bills, feed and care for my dogs buy laundry detergent, and tooth paste.I would be great to own a pair of socks that hasn’t been darned together at least 3 or 4 times or a nice shirt that wasn’t starting to fray around the edges.. This economy sucks, I’m single with no children so I don’t qualify for any government help aside from food stamps. Yet with 20+ years of management experience I don’t seem to be able to get even walmart, McDonalds or home depot to give me an interview. I just need a job. any sort of job that will pay me for the gas to and from work, insurance. I’m washing dogs and cutting lawns for cash but 50 to 100 dollars in a good week isn’t going very far.

  7. Darkitec,
    While this blog was directed at recent college grads, I understand and relate to your frustration as I have been unemployed myself and have empathized with close friends when they were unemployed for 2+ years. While you’ve shared what you have done for money to get by, you did not address what your job search consists of. Would you mind connecting on LinkedIN?

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