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It’s Just Your Major, Not Your Destiny
Posted on: May 30th, 2018


 
“What are you going to do with THAT degree?”

From the time college students declare a major, the second-guessing begins. For months, you’ve been badgered to pick a major, only to have your choice questioned again and again.

Now that graduation is approaching, perhaps you’re having doubts and thinking: “What if I can’t get a job with this degree?”

Don’t worry – your major isn’t your destiny. It’s only a beginning.

Many college students see a degree as an end in itself: a validation of certain skills, depending on a specialized field of study. This mindset has led students down an awkward path to the professional world. A chemistry major thinks she needs to work in a lab to make her degree worthwhile. A liberal arts major thinks he must get an advanced degree to make his education complete. But in today’s entry-level job market, the greatest need isn’t specialization, it’s adaptability.

Avenica works closely with employers and has a keen understanding of hiring market needs. What we’re hearing from hiring companies is that they want thinkers, hard-workers, problem-solvers and team-players, all qualities that are well-developed among Bachelor’s Degree-holders in many different disciplines. We help grads think outside of their majors when considering a future career and often surprise job-seekers by uncovering great careers they didn’t even consider (or know existed).

Here’s a few examples of how different types of degrees can be applied to a variety of high-demand positions that are hiring at the entry level:

Majors Common Transferable Skills Career Opportunities
Social sciences Interpersonal communications, organization, teamwork Human resources,
Customer service,
Investment management
Hard sciences Problem-solving, inquisitiveness, data-oriented Digital marketing,
Consulting,
Financial analyst
Business and finance Analytical, problem-solving, entrepreneurial Account management,
Actuarial analyst,
Project management
Fine arts Creativity, adaptability, big-picture thinking Claims processing,
Real estate planning,
Advertising

No matter what degree you hold, there are multiple opportunities for you to make your mark professionally and find a future career that suits both your skills and your desires. History graduates can go on to become lawyers, consultants and journalists. Music majors can make excellent accountants and financial analysts. Sociology students can be adept at customer service, and marketing. The breadth of career options for today’s grads is limited only by a student’s drive and ambition.

A degree is only the beginning of your career journey. Where the path takes you – whether it’s down a well-traveled road or a trail you blaze yourself – is your decision alone. Your major does not need to be your destiny.

Looking for a place to start your future career journey? Join the Avenica network and put our proprietary, candidate-focused model to work for you.

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Avenica CEO Brian Weed talks with WCCO on 2018 Grad Career Prospects
Posted on: May 21st, 2018

You’ve passed your finals, walked across the stage, and thrown your cap in the air. But now what? Brian Weed, Avenica’s CEO spoke with WCCO’s Heather Brown and Jason DeRusha on life after commencement and starting a career. Watch the video, then let’s chat about your future career!

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Procrastinating on your job search? Here are some tips to get started.  
Posted on: May 17th, 2018

With spring commencement just a few days or weeks away, soon-to-be college graduates who have yet to line up a job are probably feeling the heat from parents and advisors, encouraging them to start looking for a post-graduation job. But between studying for finals, saying goodbye to college friends, and preparing for commencement, how can college students in their final year keep their eyes on the prize?

Here are some career-planning “dos and don’ts” for the Class of 2018:

Start with an objective assessment of you. By now, most seniors preparing to graduate have done some thinking about post-college career plans. But paying a last-minute visit to career services or scanning job postings weeks before graduation may result in continued uncertainty and frustration. The best approach? Start with a complete and objective assessment of your full set of talents, skills and interests, based on academic and extracurricular experiences.  Marrying this assessment of your underlying skills with your interests can yield a more focused list of career options, which will translate to a more effective job search.

Don’t settle for a job when you can start a career. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure for entry-level college graduates to simply “get a job” to pay the bills. While this may be unavoidable, it’s unwise to sacrifice your career ambitions in pursuit of any job at any cost. A smarter approach is to look for “transitional” work in your desired field or an adjacent industry, which can satisfy your need for a paycheck while providing invaluable experience for your future career. For example, if account management is where you want to end up, then customer service positions can be a great starting point.

Ask for help early and often. If you feel like you’re behind the eight-ball, don’t despair: there are an abundance of resources at your disposal. First, start with parents, parents’ friends, advisors and even friends’ parents. Grow your personal network and leverage those connections to make inroads with prospective employers. Ask for advice on your résumé, cover letters and targeted industries or job leads. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions to people outside of your network – most will be eager to help.

Think outside the job search boards. The Internet can make job searches seem like a rote exercise: punch in some keywords, scroll through a few listings, find a job and upload your résumé. It seems simple, but it’s a highly ineffective “shotgun” approach that does not account for passion, interest, transferable skill or cultural fit. Rather than going it alone, career-bound seniors should consider all options, including third-party recruiting services that specialize in entry-level hiring. These solutions take the individual into account rather than relying solely on algorithms and applicant tracking variables. Third-party recruiters may also have access to positions that are not advertised publicly, giving you a better shot at the right career opportunity.

Stay positive, even if prospects seem slim. The right fit for you is out there somewhere. It takes patience and perseverance to find the perfect opportunity, but you should resist the temptation to sell yourself short, and you should never compromise for the sake of simply landing a job. Employers want energetic and engaged entry-level team members who are passionate about the company’s mission. If you are not enthusiastic about an opportunity, it will show during the interview process and ultimately, if you land the job, will make you more likely to jump ship. Stick to your strategy: you and the right opportunity will find each-other.

Learn more about how Avenica can help you find your future career.

 

 

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Beyond Career Services: Additional Resources for Entry-Level Job Seekers
Posted on: May 14th, 2018

career help, entry level job

As a graduating college student counting down the last of your college days, there’s still time to leave campus armed with a solid job search strategy. The college career services office is a valuable resource and a great place to begin your journey, but many entry-level job seekers don’t look beyond career services, missing an abundance of third-party assistance in the process.

Unfortunately, many future graduates don’t even make it to career services. Avenica research shows that nearly 35 percent of candidates surveyed had never set foot in their campus career services office, while another 71 percent indicated they had only visited the office two or fewer times.

Getting help on campus should be a first step, not an end in itself. Before heading to career services, here are a few questions to consider asking:

  • What opportunities are you seeing for people with my degree?
  • How can I best market my extracurricular work and achievements?
  • Can you help identify any gaps in my résumé?
  • Can you connect me with mentors or assist me with networking?

Most career services professionals on campus are well-connected to alumni, local employers and additional third-party resources to help grads get a jump on career planning. However, it’s important to remember that they rarely have everything students need for an effective job search, particularly as students leave campus after graduation. Many of the best opportunities for entry-level hiring exist with small and mid-sized companies, which often do not recruit on campus or have strong relationships with career services. With an increasing demand for labor ­– particularly at the entry level – employers of all sizes need a more efficient pipeline to talent.

Campus career offices often rely on a relatively narrow network of connections to large employers that primarily recruit for local positions and seek specialized hires, such as information technology, business and engineering. For liberal arts grads, career services professionals often don’t know which jobs are a fit for English, history, political science or other liberal arts majors. This at a time that liberal arts degrees are again in high demand from many employers seeking sharp problem-solving skills, a breadth of general knowledge and an understanding of how to bring “soft skills” to bear in the business world.

Online job boards are another popular option for entry-level job seekers, but also fall short when it comes to matching grads with a future career. Upcoming graduates get a false sense of progress when they search job boards (e.g., Indeed) and find they can easily apply to a large number of jobs. Unfortunately, it’s easy for everyone else, too, which results in hundreds of applicants per position. To cut this applicant pool to a manageable size, most employers use automated filters to screen out candidates without full-time relevant experience and/or specific technical skills, which most upcoming grads don’t have.

As the entry-level labor economy continues to grow and shift toward a model more focused on skills than experience, it’s essential for job seekers to consider all of their options for help planning a future career. With career services as a starting point, grads and soon-to-be graduates should expand their toolset to include other resources designed for the entry-level job seeker.

Niche recruiting firms like Avenica, which focuses exclusively on entry-level college graduate job seekers, bring together a nationwide network of employers and thousands of eager graduates, with the goal of creating an ideal match of skills, interests and hiring needs for lasting career success. Unlike a traditional staffing agency, Avenica takes extra time to go deeper with entry-level candidates and understand their career goals instead of simply filling open positions. As part of the process, Avenica’s specially-trained talent specialists can help grads discover career possibilities they didn’t know existed, as well as prepare candidates for interviews, provide résumé assistance and much more. And unlike other services, Avenica is a free resource that is 100 percent dedicated to finding the right fit for entry-level job seekers.

You’re entering into one of the best entry-level job markets in decades. With both on-campus and third-party resources to help, grads can take full advantage of the current climate of opportunity and find future careers that are rewarding and fulfilling. Graduates shouldn’t think of these resources as a way to bypass the hard work of preparing for a career, but they can provide a competitive advantage to those willing to listen, accept feedback and take advice from experts in the hiring field.

Looking for a place to start your future career journey? Join the Avenica network and put our proprietary, candidate-focused model to work for you.

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Why Experience Requirements Hurt Entry-Level Hiring Practices
Posted on: March 30th, 2018

Avenica CEO discusses why including experience requirements in entry-level hiring practices limits access to qualified candidates in an article written for the talent management and HR online publication, TLNT.com. Read the full article below or on the TLNT.com website.

For college graduates, nothing is more frustrating than applying for entry-level jobs that require experience. With degrees in hand, an eagerness to perform and a willingness to learn on the job, these prospective hires could be making a significant impact in the workforce. Even with unemployment near historic lows,and six million jobs remain open, the “underemployment rate” among entry-level college graduate job seekers—those aged 22-27 who are either unemployed or in jobs that don’t require their degree—remains at over 40%.

Unfortunately, employers are limiting their ability to hire a large group of high-performing entry-level personnel by setting the barrier of experience too high for many otherwise qualified candidates. This hiring strategy, which may help simplify the recruiting process by screening out more applicants, is holding back companies that need the best talent at the entry-level to stay competitive.

Experience is not the only predictor of success

Many companies hiring at the entry-level assume that candidates with even modest experience will be more beneficial for the company. However, that paradigm is being challenged by a new class of job-seeker: the high-performing entry-level employee (HPEL). These hires may lack direct work experience in a similar role, but they can bring other attributes, and less baggage, than their more experienced counterparts.

High-performing entry-level candidates are naturally more malleable to blend in with a company’s culture but also bring fresh perspectives to the table that are informed by learning, listening and intuition, whereas experienced hires may be more likely to get “set in their ways.” It’s important to also consider the intangible benefits that HPELs bring, such as teamwork, resilience and problem-solving abilities, and how these exceptionally driven candidates can translate their skills into action on the job. Still fresh from their academic experience, these hires will be adept at acquiring new skills because of their extensive experience learning how to learn.

The value of retention

Writing for Recruiter.com, Emily Elder explains an important risk when experienced hires fill entry-level roles:

“(T)here seems to be a disparity between entry-level job requirements and the proficiency level actually required to complete the day-to-day tasks in these roles. In today’s hiring market, companies tend to set high expectations, demanding significant qualifications and experience levels in their entry-level job postings. Once hired and onboarded, these highly qualified new employees often experience their entry-level workloads as repetitive, mundane, and without purpose. Discouraged and disenchanted with the organization, they leave. Failing to fully realize the potential of their highly-qualified employees, companies find themselves constantly recruiting for the same positions.”

Turnover is expensive — the all-in cost, including recruiting, training, and lost productivity, can be two to three times the annual salary for the position. To address this issue, smart companies are filling these roles with HPELs, which are a more natural fit with the positions. Given their desire to establish themselves and their resiliency, it’s reasonable HPELs would have higher rates of retention, promotion and professional success relative to experienced hires.

The businesses that continue to focus exclusively on experienced candidates when recruiting for entry-level positions run the risk of hiring technically-qualified candidates who may not be happy or last long with the company. In addition, technologies like applicant tracking systems are prone to screening out HPELs when employers place too specific skill and experience requirements in a job posting. By thinking more expansively and inclusively about entry-level hiring, companies can improve résumé flow and connect with candidates who may not have otherwise been noticed.

Getting the “high performing” part right

How can companies ensure they are attracting the right kind of entry-level hires among college graduates? As the first line of contact with prospective hires, a company’s message to entry-level job seekers starts with the job posting and job description. The goal should be to attract as many candidates as possible that are interested in the company, regardless of major subject in college or work experience. The job posting should be based on required skills and competencies — some of which can be trained — as well as experience, while making it clear that all interested candidates are encouraged to apply.

Companies should also prepare probing questions about transferable skills for interviewing candidates without professional work experience. Interviewers should ask these candidates for real-life examples of how they applied these skills successfully in a non-professional position, volunteer setting or team-oriented activity. These skills are often a more accurate measure of a candidate’s future success than work experience or even a college degree.
Simply put, a lack of work experiences should not be an obstacle to hiring quality talent; the transferable skills these candidates possess more than make up for any downside. While classroom learning is an important capability, for the new grad with little-to-no professional work experience, it’s life experience that counts. Employers that understand the value of non-professional experience will ask candidates about their success in sports, arts, leadership or entrepreneurship to gauge whether they possess the soft skills necessary for success in the workplace.

Finally, hiring companies should not automatically dump résumés that don’t tick every box of the job description and requirements for the position. There are many other indicators of future success besides work experience, coursework and a diploma. Companies should look beyond the usual and expected résumé fodder and consider how these HPELs can contribute.

The cost of inflexibility

Refusing to adapt to a changing hiring economy, particularly at the entry-level, and failing to cast a wide net in a competitive job market can have serious impacts on companies that desperately need to hire new talent. By taking a more expansive approach, companies can make their workplaces sought-after destinations for entry-level candidates.

Putting the “experience myth” to rest is the first step toward a new hiring paradigm, one that is here to stay as long as the need for long-term, sustainable talent exists.

For more than twenty years, Avenica has been the leading U.S. recruiting firm exclusively focused on placing college graduates into entry-level, career-track positions. Learn more about our process, or find the right entry-level talent for your team here.

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New CEO Brian Weed Shares Job Search Strategy Tips
Posted on: June 12th, 2017

GradStaff’s new CEO Brian Weed spent some time with Vocate to discuss his excitement for his new position and some great info for graduating seniors starting off on the entry level job search.

Brian took the leadership position here at GradStaff because he believes in our mission to help new grads find a career, not just a job, and his decision is constantly reinforced by great feedback from job seekers and our hiring partners.

The Vocate Article shares Brian’s tips such as not discounting non-professional experience, research all types of careers (because most people don’t know where their skills and education fit in the workplace), and looking at some select high growth industries for positions you may have never thought of as a good career fit.

 

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“Surprisingly Sexy Jobs” – Some Options for New Grad Job Seekers
Posted on: May 10th, 2017

All Business Networks recently featured advice for new grads looking for their first career and suggests casting a wider net towards industries that might not seem “sexy”, but can offer excellent career paths, salaries, and overall utilization of skills. CEO Brian Weed also offers some suggestions of potential industry fit based on college major as a starting point. Visit All Business to read more!

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GradStaff (Avenica) Manager on The Importance of Transferable Skills
Posted on: January 13th, 2017

A common misconception many recent college graduates have is that non-professional jobs are irrelevant to their career goals. Even though you may not want to work as a barista in a coffee shop for the rest of your life, it is important to understand the significance of the transferable skills that you are able to offer to an employer. While it is not a professional role, your resume should be transparent about the skill sets gained from such experiences because it demonstrates qualities of motivation and strong work ethic.

At the entry level, an employer can train the specifics of the role as it relates to the industry. However, in order to make a hiring decision, they want to have confidence that you have the basic set of transferable skills to be a valuable employee.  A transferable skill is an ability that you can carry with you from job to job and is not limited to a specific academic discipline. Some examples of transferable skills are: team orientation, positivity, motivation, communication, interpersonal skills, problem solving, organization, leadership, empathy, dependability, adaptability, etc.  As I reflect on my current role, I am amazed at all of the skills I use regularly that I have gained through previous jobs, organizations I was involved with on campus, and even volunteer experiences. 

My favorite job from high school through college was working in the restaurant industry at Red Lobster.  I was there for about 8 years, starting as a hostess and then becoming a server.  Making the transition to a server was the best decision I could have made for my personal growth.  I gained confidence in my communication skills and was able to build relationships with diverse clientele; the fast paced environment pushed me to be organized and prioritize; and it was my first exposure to sales in the form of “up-selling” food and drink items.

At the time, I did not realize I was acquiring transferable skills that I could easily apply to a professional setting.  Yet, I’ve learned that in order for experience to be relevant, it does not always need to be professional experience. To this day, I regularly hear clients say that they look for candidates with serving experience because of the dynamic skill sets that they can offer to a company. This can apply to positions outside of serving as well!   Whether you are a landscaper for a small company, nannying for a family of three, or even volunteering at a local food shelf or animal shelter – you are developing a unique set of skills that an employer will find beneficial to a workplace. Remember, your experience IS relevant.  As you take a look at your past and current roles, you will be surprised to uncover the skill sets you’ve gained that actually hold a lot of weight while being considered for many professional positions. Reflect on your own experiences!

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