This climate is similar to the one I experienced in 1993 when I graduated from college. Just like fashion, job opportunities for most people (who are not top of their class, top school) are part of a cycle; people who are not "elite" candidates get squeezed out during times of economic uncertainty and recession.
That being said, I don't believe more selective college recruitment should mean a mass exodus to graduate school or worldwide travel. There are other, better options. Like I said in an earlier post, attending unnecessary or the wrong type of graduate school is a very expensive mistake - one you will regret in lost time and money. By all means, go if you're sure you want to be a doctor, lawyer, or university professor. But if you're not sure, don't go.
A tighter job market just means as you go through the process of choosing a career, and put together a plan to reach your goals, you need to be more creative. Some suggestions on how to beat the market:
- List the training and skills your chosen career requires. You research this list not only online using help from your college career center, but by talking to people who do the type of work that interests you.
- If you have certain skills but have never used them outside the classroom, it's better to get some experience in the working world. For example, you (hopefully) should have clear writing skills from your college classes. Look for opportunities to apply them outside the classroom.
- If you lack certain skills, apply for internships, jobs, unpaid or paid that will teach you these skills, even if the position is not directly in your chosen career.
- If you have no alternative to an unpaid internship to learn new skills, then see if you can do it part-time while you work in a paid job to pay your bills.