When the graduation celebrations have ended, many recent graduates must consider what they are going to do with their lives. Boy, how things have changed! When I was in college (the 1980s), it was an unspoken rule for college seniors to have a few job offers and have a good concept of what they would be doing. In fact, the question, “where do you see yourself in five years” is a standard question of college recruiters on campus. Answer this question timidly or with revocation, and you were assured not to get a follow-interview. Go home to live with parents was not on my radar or any of my close friends.’
Yet, when I started talking with my students and other graduates from other institutions, the clarity of what they were going to do after college life was murky at best. Surprisingly, the majority of the graduating seniors did not have any idea of what they were going to do. Perhaps, it is generational because Millenniums have a different outlook than Baby Boomers or Generation Xers. However, this mentality is nothing new to me. Working for the federal government for over 25 years, I found this mindset while visiting university campuses across the country.
The situation caused me to research this matter and write my book, Job Strategies for the 21st Century: How to Assist Today’s College Students during Economic Turbulence. I attempted to assist frustrated parents, anxious students, bewildered educators, and others who are deeply concerned about the welfare of recent college graduates and their employability.
With my co-author, William Bailey, we discovered a huge disconnect between what organizations desired from potential employees, and what today’s job seekers expect of employers. In this discussion, we will examine 2017 job strategies to assist recent college graduates, their parents, or other supporters in how to increase their success in employment.
The economic picture should give recent college graduates some hope. According to the Blackrock Investment Institute’s 2017 quarterly market report, economic opportunities continue to increase. Global growth expectations are on the rise. While the United States provided most of the economic growth in 2016, non-U.S. entities created the global stimulus for economic growth in 2017. In fact, earnings upsurge was particularly strong in Japan and emerging markets despite terrorism abroad, government stability, and uncertainty in the EU countries.
Focusing more closely on the United States, individuals should feel positive about employment prospects for recent college graduates. According to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top bachelor’s degree, which would be in the highest demand, was business administration and management. Of the 169 surveyed employers, 86 stated they intended to hire graduates with this degree.
In another college employment study by CareerBuilder.com, 74% of employers planned to hire more recent college graduates this year (up from 67% from 2016). Half of these employers planned to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year; 39% of these surveyed employers would start recent graduates with $50,000 or more (compared to 27% in 2017).
The most sought after majors for these employers were: Business (30%), Engineering (26%), Computer and Information Sciences (23%), Engineering (16%), Communications Technologies (13%), Mathematics/Statistics (11%), Construction Trades (11%), and Health Professionals/Related Clinical Sciences (10%). With this positive job outlook, college graduates cannot afford to relax because of the continual changes in the job market.
Recent college graduates must enhance their job strategies. In today’s competitive environment, getting a job in one’s major is not easy. In fact, more experienced and older workers are now competing for entry-level jobs. Companies are more demanding due to the surplus of seasoned and young talent before them.
With globalization causing more U.S. companies to compete, many businesses are turning to technology (i.e. automation) and foreign-born talent to offset any workforce shortages. Thus, employers are very picky about prospective employees. For example, some graduates who were excellent students with high GPAs without any experience might find themselves on the outside if they compete against work experience.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, one in eight colleges graduating class of 2016 were under-employed. Underemployed relates to those individuals in the college-educated workforce that are doing jobs that don’t require a college degree or not in their intended major. With that said, those unemployed individuals would prefer to be working in their major full-time. In the Office of the New York City Comptroller’s 2016, the study found that, by 2014, Millennials were making about 20 percent less in real terms than what older generations made during their first years in the labor force. Thus, recent graduates cannot afford to misunderstand the job market.
Peter Cappelli, the author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, notes that the impersonal nature of the current employment process: “Like a replacement part, job requirements have very precise specifications. Job candidates must fit them perfectly, or the job won’t be filled, and the business can’t operate.” In a surplus market with numerous potential candidates, employees can be picky.
When a list of prospective applicants does not meet the requirements, many times, these positions are left unfilled. Sadly, most job seekers have not figured this reality out. Yet, loaded with the right attitude and good job strategies, recent graduates can ensure themselves of better success in this job market. The following are the 2017 job strategies for more employability:
- Possess a good character that makes you an attractive person.
- Connect your ideal job with your interest, skills/abilities, and value/belief system.
- Build an effective personal brand, including an online personality connected to Linkedin.com and critical online networks.
- Pursue additional education and certifications (i.e. Google digital marketing certifications) that separate you from the competition.
- Use daily positive self-affirmations about your skills and abilities to keep your energy level positive.
- Build an incredible professional network for identifying job opportunities.
- Learn how to seek out critical advice and mentorship, but develop the capacity to use it.
- Develop a questioning attitude about life to promote problem solving.
- Network with subject matter experts, industry leaders, and highly successful people to increase your job opportunities.
- Target desired positions and apply periodically (daily, weekly, etc.) so that you are actively engaged in new employment.
In today’s difficult economy, college graduates must be more assertive despite the positive forecast for employment. Getting a job isn’t easy. This article describes 2017 job strategies to assist recent college graduates to become successful in today’s employment landscape.
Unlike when their parents were starting their careers, many Millennials will face future employers that have a variety of job options to fill a job vacancy. Individuals who understand the new mindset of current employers will have a better chance of successfully navigating the employment landmines.
Yet, a savvy job seeker understands these employment changes and makes the necessary corrections to make his/her personal brand attractive to potential employers. If individuals want to be more effective in their job hunt for 2017, they can use these job strategies to navigate future career challenges. Pray that it is not too late.
© 2017 by Daryl D. Green