How I Got 2 Job Offers 8 Months After Graduation and Negotiated $13,000

Searching for a job sucks

Hi, I’m Dustin Pearce–creator of GradDash and graduate of Miami University. Eight months after graduation 50% of my class and I were still unemployed.

By the middle of summer I had applied to hundreds of jobs. I had talked with career services at my university, tried “networking”, and even tried learning new skills to add to my resume.

I had exhausted every option I could think of and was getting nowhere.

On top of that I started feeling the pressure of having to pay back my student loans and my dad handing over more and more financial responsibilities to me.

Lesson #1: Make money part-time

With no more Financial Aid to live on, out of necessity my job search shifted from thinking about starting my career to just needing to getting by.

There’s no telling how long it will take you to find your first job but one thing’s for sure: if you don’t have money to pay bills, your job search will get desperate really quick.

A part-time job will:

  1. Give you a money to pay bills (and reason to shower in the morning)
  2. Give your day-to-day a little more purpose (even if that purpose is just bagging groceries)

Be smart when applying for part-time jobs

Employers know that college graduates are looking for a job their field and are out door the first offer they get. I learned this the hard way: not only was I getting rejected by every job I applied to, now even Walmart wouldn’t hire me!

If you get asked if you’re looking for long-term employment, say “yes”! The statistics for how long it takes a recent graduates to find a full-time job in their field says that you could be at this for a while.

One more thing about money: I highly suggest reading Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. Having control over your money is one of the best feelings ever.

Don’t be afraid to take another internship

I eventually did find a part-time job as a pharmacy technician, but right after I went in for orientation I got a call about a video production internship I applied for. The internship offered me 40-hours a week, plus experience, so I took it.

I couldn’t imagine it at the time but having that experience gave me the credibility I needed to receive my my first job offer 5-months down the road. Just because you graduated don’t be afraid to take another internship. It could translate into more opportunity (and higher salary) later on.

Lesson #2: Get hope from others

Now I had money in the bank but my job search was still going nowhere and worst, I was loosing hope.

While at my video production internship I overheard people say how they wished they had became a pharmacist. So I did some research and found that the average salary for a pharmacist was quit a bit higher than a graphic designer…

My internship came to an end and I finally started working at the pharmacy, this time however, with the intent of abandoning my major and becoming a pharmacist.

Get out of your head

I discuss my new plan with my uncle one day at our local library. As we were walking through the aisles I grabbed a huge book about Walt Disney and he challenged me to read it. Even though I had no intention of reading the book before his challenge, now I was determined.

So everyday I would get up and work at the pharmacy then come home and read a few more chapters about the life of Walt Disney. This pattern went on for a few weeks before I realized the affects it was having on me: As I entered Walt Disney’s story and struggles, I was leaving my own.

Overtime, I not only started to see the world beyond the perspective of my own circumstances, but I started to draw hope from how Walt overcame his own life’s challenges.

There is no guaranteed career path

My plan to become a pharmacist started to fade as I spent time talking with recent pharmacy grads doing their rounds and hearing about their own struggles being placed full-time.

It wasn’t until I really understood the cost of going back to school though that I finally gave up the idea of becoming a pharmacist and get back on track to searching for a career in graphic design.

Lesson #3: Follow a proven plan

All of my methods for finding a job up till now had proven useless and I knew that if I was going to succeed this time I needed help.

I remembered hearing about a friend of mine in the class before me didn’t find his first job until 6-months after graduation. I knew that if anyone could understand what I was going through and be able to offer useful advice it would be him.

So I sent him a message asking if he would share his story and offer advice. Here’s what he said…

Paul’s Plan:

Step 1. Revamp your portfolio
Step 2. Revamp your website
Step 3. Blog

(These are constants)

(Make yourself sound like a professional!)

If you’re not a graphic designer you might be thinking that this part doesn’t apply to you. Well, while the specifics may be a little bit different depending on your major the point is still the same—you need a plan.

Find someone who graduated a year before you and ask them how they got their first job.

The job market is constantly changing and the BEST people to advice you on its current challenges are those who have just been through it. Just make sure that the plan is simple, something you can repeat every day, and most of all, believable.

Put your hope in a proven plan

One night I was writing in my journal about how frustrated I was over still not having a job in my field and started slipping into despair. Up until that point I had been swinging from one extreme thing to the next: from thinking the only way would ever get a job as a graphic designer would be to learn programming to thinking about completely giving up on graphic design altogether and applying to pharmacy school.

But for the first time, instead of entertaining my thoughts of despair I stopped myself and decided instead to put my hope in following Paul’s plan.

That moment marked a very deep and significant change in my outlook and approach to the job search.

My first 2 job offers

The next day I had a phone interview. The interview went horrible, but shortly after that I received two phone calls from two different jobs I applied for who seemed to be interested in my skills. One offered me the job right then and the other offered me a job a few weeks later.

After eight-months of having only experienced the pressure of not having a job now I was experiencing the complete opposite pressure—deciding which job to choose?! I know without Paul’s help and following his advice I would not have been offered those opportunities

How I negotiated $13,000

Admittedly my first job offer made me even more depressed than not having a job in the first place. After paying bills I didn’t know how I would ever pay back my $32,000 of student loans. Luckily I was able to take the job as a freelancer and use the experience as leverage for another offer I had at the same time.

Again, the other company gave me a lowball offer, but this time I was prepared. In the end I negotiated $13,000 more and felt like I won the lottery!

If you want to see step by step how I did it, along with the actual email chain back and forth with the company (names changed to protect the identities of those involved), then checkout my ebook, Negotiate What You’re Worth.


Searching for a job sucks. The distance between college and career is a marathon, not an all-nigher. But I believe that with a stolid financial foundation, hope based in other peoples’ experiences, and a proven plan from someone who’s overcome what you’re struggling with, you CAN go the distance, and you WILL get a job.

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