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Don Draper

Jon Hamm moved from Missouri to California to become Don Draper. You may need to travel for your career as well.

I love my generation, and I will fervently defend it against all the negative talk in the media.

But as of late, members of my own generation make me want to put my head through a brick wall.


In my job, I get to interview quite a few fresh-faced college grads each week, and far too often they have no idea how the job market works.

Part of my job is to cut through their illusions of grandeur and help them be more realistic in their job search. Many times this is easier said than done.

Below are some of the most common unrealistic expectations I’ve run into with new college grads.


Lots of kids walk into my office without having the faintest idea of how salaries work. Before making a fool of yourself, understand all the factors that go into how much you get paid.

For instance, I see a lot of finance majors who think they can make 50k a year in South Florida’s hard-hit economy with absolutely no finance experience. Or I interview transplanted New Yorkers who are blown out of the water by how little they get paid to do the same job in Florida.

New grads need to align their desired salary with their experience and education, while keeping their location in mind. Simply put, if you’ve got a Bachelor’s but no work experience, don’t expect to get paid very much at first. And for the record, “negotiable” or “open” are not valid answers when discussing your desired salary—recruiters hate that.


The economy of your current location can not only affect how much people are being paid, but it can also determine what kind of a jobs are available to you.

Like finance majors, I love marketing majors too—they all think can be the next Donald Draper without having to leave South Florida. News flash: It’s just not going to happen any time soon.

The fact of the matter is that different industries thrive in different areas. Do your research. You may find that you need to move to land your dream job.


Different companies have different methods of hiring. It’s not as simple as sending in a résumé and walking into a job interview anymore. More than ever, companies are getting creative with group interviews, really bizarre interview questions, and days out in the field.

Other companies are just very picky about who they bring on. Since we’re currently dealing with the effects of a recession, employees hold on to their jobs for their dear lives—even if it’s a bad situation. Consequently, companies aren’t necessarily looking for the candidate with the best qualifications; rather they’re looking for candidates that best fit their current company culture.

The recession may have changed the way companies hire, but one thing has and always will remain constant: Job hunters need to adapt the current economic situation. By becoming realistic about your expectations, you’ll end up saving yourself a lot of heartache and frustration in the long run.

(Photo: Christina Saint Marche)

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  1. Aaron Weber September 7, 2012 / 1:53 pm

    Fortunately, a dollar gets you a lot more housing in South Florida than it does in Manhattan (location, location, location!).

    When I moved from Philly to Boston, I knew Boston would be more expensive, but I didn’t really understand how much more expensive. Then I found out that a parking space in Boston costs twice what my share of an apartment did in Philadelphia.

  2. Tim March 28, 2014 / 12:35 pm

    I’m far from being fresh out of undergrad, but the lack of transparency employers have related to position salaries still bewilders me. If employers want inexperienced new grads to have realistic compensation expectations why not be up front in the job posting what the range is rather than make it a guessing game?
    These positions clearly have a value above which the employer won’t pay. Why make recruitment more burdensome by having to sift through applicants who otherwise would have self-selected out?
    As a mid-career professional my decision to change employers is based on many factors, some which have more weight than the dollar amount (career advancement opportunities, challenging work, location).
    Not all, but many, employers also set unrealistic expectations such as demanding that entry-level hires be fully trained and experienced with x, y, and z processes and products proprietary to that organization.
    My advice to recent grads: Since you’ve likely had to move back in with your parents and your early career has already been sacrificed by an older generation, start your own company. In this economic environment the hard work it will require isn’t substantially different than what is needed to find success working for others.

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