GradStaff CEO Bob LaBombard wrote a commentary that was featured on CNBC.com. The full commentary follows, or you follow the link to read it on CNBC.com.
The class of 2016 entered one of the strongest entry-level job markets in recent memory. Thanks to an aging workforce and low unemployment, 2016 grads were well positioned for success as they sought out their first professional job.
Unfortunately, the path from college to work is inefficient for grads and hiring companies alike. More than 75 percent of new jobs created last year were with employers with 500 or fewer employees. Since these companies typically don’t interview on campus, new grads often overlook this important segment of the job market.
At the same time, as many as 70 percent of new grads don’t know where their education and skills fit in the workforce, so grads are ill prepared to market themselves to the employers who want to hire them.
Here are five essential tips to help new grads make the ideal career match after graduation:
Develop a strong value proposition –Job seekers should identify the transferable skills (often called “soft skills”) they possess that have value in the workplace. These are skills like critical thinking, effective communication, time management, leadership, work ethic, etc. Based on feedback from professors, coaches, work supervisors, etc., grads should think of times when they have been recognized or commended for the application of specific skills. The combination of these skills represent the value candidates bring to entry-level positions in lieu of work experience. Practical help from third-party job market experts will provide many with the direction they need to create a compelling value proposition.
Create and implement a job search strategy – New grads often cast a wide net when seeking their first jobs after college, but a “shotgun” approach doesn’t often get results. Even with a history, English or psychology major, grads can have success identifying potential jobs that fit. Candidates shouldn’t focus on the job title. Instead, they should do research on the types of careers that fit the transferable skills that make up their personal value propositions. If a grad has strong critical thinking or analytical skills, they ought to look for jobs that require these skills. Using this approach should allow grads to identify jobs they had never considered in industries they may know little about, thereby expanding their horizons.
Do your homework – Candidates should prepare real life examples that demonstrate transferable skills gained from coursework, group projects, extra-curricular activities, work experiences and leadership positions. These examples will support a candidate’s value proposition. Job seekers should also research the industries, companies, and positions they are targeting, so they can come to interviews prepared with meaningful questions and learn more about the company and their potential roles. Informational interviews are a great way to break the ice with limited expectations. Use them to get your foot in the door and gain valuable interview practice in a low-stakes environment.
Network, network, network – Most entry-level professional jobs are not advertised. Why? Large companies with college recruiting programs often limit job postings since they recruit at a specific group of schools. Further, since small and medium employers don’t interview on campus, they commonly identify applicants through referrals. Most college students have larger networks that they think. Parents of friends, professors, coaches, former work supervisors, volunteer leaders, and many others can all be helpful. Most importantly, alumni contacts should be pursued vigorously. Recent alumni connections can be contacted to learn more about their job searches and where they landed. Older alumni will be more than willing to help, especially if approached for informational interviews. Informational interviews often lead directly or indirectly to finding a job.
Use technology wisely – Technology has completely changed the game when it comes to job searches. More than half of college students use mobile apps when looking for a job and more than 90 percent of students use social media regularly. Social media networking – primarily via LinkedIn – is widely considered to be the best way for college students to identify and pursue job opportunities. Technology has empowered college students and new grads to tackle job searches on their own. However, students still need to develop a strategy to have success, and must ensure their social media profiles are up-to-date with current experience and connections. Technology can be a valuable tool for networking, too, so use it to your advantage. Set a goal to make at least five new connections every week during your job search.
Becoming career-ready is all about cultivating and marketing the skills employers crave in an entry-level hire, including the ability to communicate effectively, think critically, solve problems, and lead people. Technologies and trends change and become obsolete or passé, but transferable skills will be valued forever. The key to success is to never stop exploring. Immerse yourself in every experience that interests you and develop skills that can be applied to any career.Tags: Job Market, Job Search Strategy, Networking, Transferable Skills