• Is a college degree worth it for Millennials?

    August 08, 2016 by
    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    In today’s global, competitive workforce—where Millennials are the largest generation to date—jobs are tough to find and competition is more than 10 times worse than before the last economic downturn in 2008. For the past eight years, evidence shows a stalling, declining economy with pockets of hope but mostly despair. A recent poll cited that college graduates and Millennials under the age of 35 are moving back in with their parents in the homes they grew up in at alarmingly increasing rates. Other recent findings include the following factors that can hinder a graduate’s job search: taking too long to graduate while others fill jobs; going on to graduate school and delaying a career start; not being able to afford to work for less in a career start due to heavy college loan debt.

    What is a newly minted college graduate to do? Is the college degree they hold in their hands worth it? Will they find a job? Will they make enough to pay off student loans and college debt while at the same time living independently from their parents?

     

    Welcome to the “new normal” of what is the big Millennial challenge: Finding jobs that pay well enough to satisfy debt while at the same time affording a lifestyle.

    In this brave, new world of global capitalism, government spending, and oversight, new regulations such as the new overtime mandate of paying salaried workers more for overtime…. graduates are in for a big wake up call! And more, older, qualified and more senior workers are standing in line for those jobs.

    Happy yet? Keep reading. The US economy is stalled. Unfortunately, the government has decided to make it their role to tell employers how to run their businesses. Small businesses—the county’s backbone of entrepreneurship—have become stressed and many have closed or re-shifted to allow for these regulations. Some economists are predicting layoffs over the next few quarters as a result of a stalled economy coupled with higher mandated wages. Additionally, technology is often replacing workers in the workforce adding to the “do less with more” theme in many business operations.

    Here are the top things you must do if you want employment in this US economy, and this includes being able to pay off debt:

    Get more than one job: It may take a career start for less money combined with a job waiting tables on nights and weekends to make enough money. There is no shame in this, and in fact, future recruiters and employers will react positively to those Millennials who demonstrate a good work ethic.

    Don’t expect it to be handed to you: Gone are the days of jobs awaiting. Employers want employees with “go get ‘em” work ethics. As an employer of Millennials, I am always looking for young talent willing to earn their way into my business.

    We don’t care about your yoga, essential oils or feelings at work: They call it work for a reason. While some larger companies (Google, Twitter, etc) have offered amenities and benefits attractive to Millennials, these jobs are often reserved for the top few. A recent news report cited high competition for these coveted jobs. Most businesses cannot afford to “cater” to a certain type of demographic like the Millennials.

    Communicate the old fashioned way: Look people in the eye, shake hands, talk persuasively, and send a hand-written thank you note. In a recent report by DC-based, NRF (National Retail Federation), communication skills place last on a list of training wants for Millennials. Placing first on the employer’s list? Communication skills. Millennials who understand what corporate recruiters are seeking will be those better able to get employed.

    Secure a job that you know you can achieve in and take it: Work hard to prove yourself. My friend, Patti Clauss, Sr. VP of Global Talent for Williams-Sonoma and related companies says to “follow my lead and communicate with me like I communicate with you. Stay put in your job long enough to learn something valuable and transferable,” says Clauss.

    Stay in your first job long enough, and work hard to generate results that are good enough to brag about: You must achieve results, get good feedback and move the ball down the field. Only then will people notice you and want to promote you or hire you away.

    Don’t be a quitter: The problem with Millennials is they don’t stay put long enough to learn enough to make them valuable to the next employer: Hopping around in jobs is not a career enhancing practice. Employers will take note of a graduate who has moved around more than once within a two to three year time frame. Nobody wants to invest in someone if they know they won’t stay long enough to add value.

    Reach out and engage with older, more established mentors in your job or career who can give you advice you won’t get anywhere else. Listen to those who have forged their paths before you and learn.

    Read the local paper and read blogs by those in your area of work.

    Know that your college degree is only as good as the paper it is on: While we believe a degree is a door opener, it is just that. What you do with it is what matters. A degree (or many) will not convince an employer to select you over others. We see many smart, degreed people out there looking for any job—often an entry level job.

    Amy Howell, Author and Founder of Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC

    Amy Howell, Author and Founder of Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC

    Times are so different and it is critical that Millennials get into high gear and work to get ahead. They must understand that getting a degree is just one quiver in their pack of arrows. Today, they must have many other weapons with which to compete.

    Amy D. Howell is founder and owner of Memphis PR firm, Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC, a mother of a college student, high school student and author of two books, “Women in High Gear,” and most recently “Students in High Gear.”