Five tips for the recent grad's job search

Harvard University commencement
A graduate of Harvard's Graduate School of Education wore a mortar board reading "Will Teach 4 Food" during Harvard University commencement exercises in 2005.
William B. Plowman/Getty Images

For college graduates seeking their first full-time jobs out of school, the current economy is causing unique challenges.

Five years after the start of the recession, the United States is seeing unemployment numbers drop, but recent college graduates are still having a tough time, reports the Economic Policy Institute. Unemployment and underemployment for college grads have both risen since the beginning of the recession, with unemployment up 3.1 percent and underemployment up 8.4 percent.

Lindsey Pollak, a consultant and author, said on The Daily Circuit that the situation facing recent college grads is "still very, very hard. Companies are looking for the very, very top talent. They are hiring incrementally more people than the last year or so, but it's still very difficult, and recent graduates really need to understand the process companies use to hire them."

Paul Harrington, a professor at Drexel University, pointed out that the recent damage done to the assets of people nearing retirement has made them stay in the workforce longer. "All the employment growth in the country has been concentrated among people 55 and above," he cautioned. Pollak agreed: "I'm under the impression that baby boomers are never going to retire, ever. We're going to have 100-year-old workers taking entry-level jobs."

Even so, our guests and callers offered useful strategies for the post-graduation job hunt.

FIVE STRATEGIES FOR GETTING THE RIGHT JOB:

• Rack up some experience.
"Get those internships, get real experience," Pollak said. "It's really expected ... they don't expect you to just be a good student with potential. They expect you to have some real-world professional experience, preferably in the exact industry they want to hire you for."

• Try to make a strong start.
Remember that your earnings early in life predict your earnings later in life, Harrington said. "Where you start and where you end up are very closely connected. That's why it's so important that students make a really good transition out of college. Kids who wait and delay their job search will find themselves at a terrible disadvantage as a consequence."

• Work your way up.
Matthew in Minneapolis started working for Target while he was still in college. His friends thought he was nuts. But his college job led to a position at Target headquarters after graduation, and now he makes a lot more than his friends. His advice: "Start at the very bottom and put in that time right now and slowly rise through the ranks."

• Don't act as though you're entitled to a job.
Renee in Sioux Falls is a manager who thinks young people have too strong a sense of entitlement. On a recent hire, only one applicant spoke about work ethic. Pollak agrees: "Talking about your work ethic" can be a great strategy. "Your desire to learn, and work hard, and contribute ... that is absolutely going to help you stand out from the crowd in any industry. And if you're humble and modest and polite and hardworking? I know those sound like real basics, but today they're actually really unique and something that can help you win the job."

• Don't stay in school too long.
David, a human resources director in the Twin Cities, said he gets "really concerned when potential employees go straight to grad school after undergrad, especially in management. I think when they come out of that they get a sense of entitlement that there should be an entry-level CEO job available for them. I typically avoid those kind of individuals, because it shows me that they haven't done anything, work-wise. They've been a professional student for six years."

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE JOB MARKET FOR COLLEGE GRADS:

What it takes to make new college graduates employable
Jaime S. Fall, a vice president at the HR Policy Association, an organization of chief human resources managers from large employers, said these findings backed up what his organization was hearing over and over from employers. Young employees "are very good at finding information, but not as good at putting that information into context," Mr. Fall said. "They're really good at technology, but not at how to take those skills and resolve specific business problems." (New York Times)

Survey Uncovers How Veteran HR Professionals Really Feel about Job Seekers from Millennial Generation
"According to the Beyond.com survey, while over 84% of Millennial job seekers (age 19-26) are optimistic about finding employment, there are substantial differences in how they view themselves and how HR Professionals perceive them in a variety of categories, including: work ethic, leadership skill, and technological expertise, among others." (Beyond.com)

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