- 2012 - May - 4th -

  Generally, what can college graduates expect to face in this job market?
What is the key advice you would offer to job-seeking graduates?
Should a graduate take a job outside of his or her career focus in order to gain a salary and/or work
What will today’s graduates learn from their job searches that graduates from better economies might
not realize?
John Delaney
University of North Florida

Unemployment among college graduates is about half of that of non-graduates. But entry level jobs now pay less than they used to. No matter what the state of the economy is, I always advise to take the entry level job, work hard and long, and other opportunities will open up. Bosses look for talent and work ethic; those are universally rewarded. See answer 1. But be prepared for the interview process. Read up on the place where you are applying. Dress appropriately. Rehearse answers. One would be surprised how sloppy some people are about asking for a job — not knowing the business, wearing flip-flops, stumbling over simple questions. That answer is dependent on the circumstance and on the person. My dad worked for General Motors. He said that he could always see who the big brass had their eyes on — they were moved every two-three years to new positions to gain experience on their way up the ladder. There is no question that a variety of experiences help make one a better employee. But some bosses like to see skill and continuity in one key area. I’m on my third career (law, politics, academia), so I tend to like broader experiences. It’s tough out there. Real tough. Some professions have always been cyclical (teaching, nursing) but this mini-Depression hit about every job category. I don’t know of a family that didn’t have some family member displaced. That hasn’t happened since the 1930s.
Nat Glover
Edwards Waters College
Graduates will be faced with significant competition as they enter the workforce due to the vast pool of applicants looking for jobs. Also, graduates should be prepared to relocate. With each city, state and region having their own particular economic and social needs, graduates may be forced to find a location with more opportunity in their respective field. I tell our seniors three things: 1) From the moment you wake up until you go to sleep, you are interviewing — every day. You never know who is watching you. 2) Be persistent and true to yourself. 3) Each person has a gift. The key to success is finding an opportunity to fully apply your particular set of skills, even if it does not necessarily align with your degree. It is tough out there, and I understand that you have to pay the bills. However, if you are forced to work outside your respective field, try to take a job where you will gain transferrable experience. Skills can be transferred across fields if communicated properly on a resume and during the interview process. Every opportunity is a chance to learn something new to set yourself apart. Today’s graduates will learn the true meaning of perseverance. It might take a little longer than expected to land the right job, but there is a lot to learn along the way. In this economy, graduates must seek the employers, as opposed to a thriving economy where the employer is seeking the applicant. When you finally find the employer, you must swiftly distinguish yourself — because others are waiting right behind you.
Candace Moody
Vice President
Although unemployment has dropped by more than 1.5 percentage points year over year (from 10 percent to 8.4), new graduates will still find the employment market to be challenging. Internships will play an even more critical role in finding a job. Students should choose their internship carefully and do their best work. It’s their one chance to audition for a job after graduation. Look for work in places you might have overlooked in a good economy. Staffing companies, for instance, can provide jobs and valuable feedback on your skills. Figure out what you can do well that other people will pay for, and go out to find opportunities. Every day you get paid builds experience and confidence. Too many jobseekers turn down available “work” because they are searching for a 40-hour per week “job.” Yes. Work is work, and you can continue to network and search even after you get a job. You’ll gain valuable experience no matter what kind of job you take, and potential employers will respect your willingness to do what it takes to earn a living in a tough economy. Employers always grumble about the entitlement mentality of young workers. This recession may finally break that trend. Your entry level jobs teach you valuable skills and allow you to observe and learn what makes a good manager — and a bad one. You’ll be a better leader and appreciate your career much more because of the time you spent as a worker bee or waiting by the phone for a job offer. 
Barbara Tolliver-Haskins
Certified Executive Coach
Executive Coaching Solutions
College graduates should be prepared to see and experience the true realities of the economy and its impact on the supply and demand for jobs. According to reports from the Associated Press, half of young college graduates with bachelor’s degrees find themselves in positions that underutilize their skills. Our graduates should be prepared to compete with last year’s college graduates and workers who have been downsized both locally and nationally. Don’t wait for your cap and gown. Begin your job search now. Talk with your counselors and design your personal job search strategy. This is a good time to use your social networks to full advantage. Have a message that clearly states what you are looking for, your strengths, talents and without a doubt, the extent of your mobility. Seek ways to differentiate yourself and leave a lasting impression. From my perspective, the challenge that exists within the job market should not deter an initial job search. Graduates owe it to themselves to make an effort to find the position that aligns with their dreams and professional goals. I would suggest a reasonable timeline based upon finances, family support and skill sets.Feedback from potential employers must be taken into consideration. Flexibility is essential in today’s economic climate. They will note many older workers seeking jobs that have been typically associated with younger employees. Also, there will be far more applicants applying for the same position. Traditional companies that have recruited on campus and in job fairs will have fewer positions available. More than likely they will recognize that good interviewing skills coupled with a good work history is just the first step in the hiring process.

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