Ask most recent graduates about their job hunting experience and you’ll have all the proof you need that this is quite the challenging job market. Thanks to the not quite yet recovered economy, employers are still being cautious about adding new hires, and for the ones that are increasing their workforce, they are more selective than ever before.
What this means for the Class of 2014, and their fellow grads from the last couple of years is that earning a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily an entry ticket into a fantastic position that’s directly related to one’s major. In fact, 36 percent of graduates are working at jobs that don’t even require a degree, most likely because they needed a paycheck (thanks, student loans!) and took what they could get.
Despite the obstacles, having a degree is still better than not having one, since study after study shows that income potential is directly related to the level of education attained. So a high school graduate would earn less than a bachelor’s holder; a master’s degree earner would earn more than a bachelor’s graduate; and so on. If you don’t have any educational credentials, it could be a good idea to look into short-term programs like an accelerated associates of business degree since they could help make you more marketable.
Beyond education, however, what today’s employers are really looking for are skills that can be applied in the workplace quickly after candidates are hired. Some of the most highly coveted skills include technical prowess in areas like social media, mobile, and cloud computing, but soft skills like leadership are just as important.
So how can a new graduate convince a potential employer that their degree is more than just a piece of paper, and that they have the skills necessary for real world business success? For starters, it’s all about networking and connecting with the right people – both online and offline -- so that you’re more than just an application in a pile. Second, being proactive about building a personal brand can help job seekers get discovered by recruiters, which is why many people are starting blogs or really working on building an engaging social media presence.
Take a close look at this infographic from MidAmerica Nazarene University, which explores the job market landscape for today’s recent grads, and offers some expert strategies on how to navigate it.
About the author: Dawn Papandrea is a Staten Island, NY-based writer specializing in education, careers, parenting, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in publications including Family Circle, Parents, WomansDay.com, CreditCards.com, and more. She has a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from New York University. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.