Tuesday, July 8, 2008

College Graduates Get Mixed Messages From Job Market

college graduate jobsIf most people had to guess about the employment prospects for recent college graduates, they would probably paint a pretty dim picture. The economy is certainly not hitting on all cylinders right now, and there are more companies laying off folks right now than there are companies hiring. Coupled with the timid business investment environment, you can see why most have this view. Yet things might not be so bad after all, at least for some graduates, according to a press release from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

NACE reports that, while job opportunities for college graduates are down in number, salaries for college graduates have actually increased 7.1 percent over last year. So for those graduates lucky enough to get a job, they are in great shape. The rest are probably doomed to spend some more time living with Mom and Dad.

On the surface, this wage increase may seem like a surprise, but at the same time it really shouldn’t be. In this competitive job market, companies are enjoying the luxury of selecting only the best and the brightest. For the increased productivity they are going to get from these individuals they are willing and able to pay more. During the last several years, businesses have been focusing a lot on increased productivity. Ideally, businesses want to have as few people as possible producing as much possible, while still being economically beneficial, of course.

If you happen to be in college, know that it is now more important than ever to set yourself apart. The best of the best have great prospects, and the rest do not. Moral of the story: Make sure you are one of the best.

On another note, if you have the right skill set and aren’t interested in corporate America, then maybe you should consider starting your own business. More than ever, young people are making a name for themselves as entrepreneurs. It is hard work, loaded with risk, but just take a look at Bill Gates or Michael Dell (of course, they both dropped out of college, though I don't necessarily recommend that path), or any number of other young entrepreneurs to see the potential rewards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a recent college undergraduate I can tell you all this….

In a perfect world, all of the smiling, resume giving, and note taking you did at your college career fair would have paid off immediately after you were handed your 60k+ piece of sheep skin, but it does not. Most companies and government agencies now list a bachelors as their “minimum” requirements. Furthermore, many recruiters at career fairs (especial those on the federal side) are not really there to look for applicants, unless they have specialized skills (i.e. majored in engineering), they are just there to pass time.

Unless you are privileged to have a “daddy” with connections on the inside, you are going to be in line with everyone else, and possibly even working at 7-11 to get by till your apps come through.

*Bachelors Degrees are a dime a dozen, and what employers really look for is experience,contacts,and work history. Today, anyone with enough money can go to any major university and BUY a degree. Hetch, they can be purchased online as well…

*Your GPA and area of study do not matter. I had well over a 3.0, but so did just about the 1500 students in my school of study who graduated with me. Unless you are applying for graduate school or majored in a specialized field, employers do not care your GPA or what educational skills you gained from your study. They are only impressed if you were at the top of your class, have some graduate level work, or have years of work experience. If you try to make “grades” the focal point if your “skills” on your resume or during an interview, the interviewer may take it as insult or view you as a “know it all” with no real experience.

*Currently employers are looking for those with either a lot of work experience (+3 full time) or a graduate levels of education.

*Your internships, work study, or previous part time work experience do not matter unless you made strong connections and got good referrals from those jobs.

*Government agencies are notorious for taking forever to respond to applications, and (from my own personal experience)they may call you in for interviews or test only to tell you you are inexperienced, and those agencies/departments that recruit at colleges and career fairs do this the most.

*Yes, it is true, many employers have unrealistic expectations of recent undergrads, especially those in high end companies and government agencies. They want applicants as young a new born lamb, but experienced as father time. In light of this there are three areas that WILL get you noticed when you apply for any job. They are LANGUAGES spoken, COMPUTER SKILLS acquired, and GRADUATE LEVEL COURSE WORK (a hint to all of those who are still undergrads or on their way to college.)

* Unless you are applying for jobs in specialized fields, i.e. engineering, medicine/health, law, IT, accounting, etc. your graduate level work (if you decide to pursue it)really will not matter to employers. Most are simply impressed that you completed some sort of program somewhere….undergraduate degree…forget about it.

*In a perfect world EEOC, Fair Labor Standards, and non discriminatory mission statements would ensure that everyone’s interview lead to a job or at lease got a fair shake. The truth is many apps are disqualified and many applicants are turned down for petty reasons. “Lack of experience” is often a code for, “Your young, and therefore stupid for wasting my time, come back when you fit my expectations not the company’s…”, “I just do not like the way you look…” “Our diversity quota is full…” or finally, “You will NOT help us meet our diversity quota…”

Face the facts, nepotism, contacts, and quotas are the way of the work world. A lot of HR managers have an axe to grind (and take their frustrations out on new applicants) and a lot more just generally dislike young applicants. It does not matter if your black, white, yellow, brown, the deck is stacked against you and even more so if you are young, have no contacts within the place you are applying for, and or lack a graduate, specialized, or IVY League level of education.