Posted September 09, 2019 by

Why are so many college grads out of work?

If you’re a recent graduate and have been frustrated by a lengthy job search with poor results, you’re not alone. Despite low unemployment, many college grads are finding it difficult to land a job. Recent stats from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) show that the average college graduate needs 7.4 months to find a job.

The problem, according to surveys, is that employers are not impressed by today’s college graduates. More specifically, research shows that business leaders are not happy with the level of “career readiness” colleges are providing students. What’s more, students seem to agree. Research shows an increasing number of graduates feel that the colleges they attended haven’t done a very good job of preparing them for a professional career.

If this news isn’t bad enough, research also shows that today’s graduates face higher levels of unemployment than previous generations, in stark contrast to the current near record-low unemployment rate of 3.8%. The advice site AfterCollege reports 83% of college grads leave school before lining up their first job.

So, how do you beat these odds? Adjust your expectations and make sure you have the right skills.

Career coaches and other experts say that many grads have unrealistic expectations when it comes to their first professional job. More grads are unwilling to start “on the ground floor,” but that’s exactly where most recent grads begin their careers. Of course, starting positions, salary and career track vary by industry.

It’s okay to start in an entry-level position if the employer has discussed opportunities moving forward and outlined what the typical career path is within the company. Experts suggest interviewing for positions that may seem “below” your target but asking questions regarding opportunities and clearly stating your goals. Many large companies start everyone (regardless of grades and experience) at the same level as a way of training new employees and determining their skills. Ultimately, it might be better to start in the mailroom of the company you want to work for than to take a higher-level position in a business you’re not really interested in.

Next, make sure you have a well-rounded skill set. Today’s employers place a high value on “soft skills,” such as critical thinking, attention to detail and communication. (For more, read “Wanted: Soft Skills that Set You Apart and Make You a Valuable Employee” www.collegerecruiter.com/blog/2019/08/12/wanted-soft-skills-that-set-you-apart-and-make-you-a-valuable-employee/  If you feel like you could use some improvement on skills such as communication, ask for help from other professionals. Also, be sure to demonstrate these skills on your resume by providing examples. Most employers respond to experience more than coursework and grades.

While it may be discouraging to put all that time and money into getting a degree and then not get the job you want right out of the gate, persistence and patience do pay off.

Sources:

“Despite low unemployment, many college grads are out of work,” by Mark Huffman, Consumer Affairs, 2019. National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

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