According to an article in the Washington Post, only 27% of college grads leave school with a job related to their major. That means 73% of graduates are underemployed, if they found a job at all. After spending years grinding through their studies, many come face to face with the reality a job in their field isn’t waiting for them. In fact, as many as 83% of college graduates leave school without lining up their first job.
I’ve seen this reality year after year in the 14 years I’ve worked with sorority women. I’ve seen their frustration at not being able to find a position in the field of their dreams. Just take a look at what some of them have said…
Alex H. – Experience!! No one wanted to hire me without at least 3-5 years of experience at an “entry level” job. It took me almost exactly 2 years to find a job in my field.
Alyssa M. – One of the biggest roadblocks I had was reaching out to do a preliminary phone interview and them (the company) never calling or providing information for me to reach out and see what was going on (unable to follow up).
Pamela F. – 100 + applications later and I’m no closer than I was when I started.
Georgia C. – I graduated in August of 2019. I applied for 397 jobs (yes you read that right) and was interviewed for 9 of them and only offered a position at 1.
Some get lucky and get an offer. They take it even when it’s not in their field. I get it. Everyone wants to be off their folk’s payroll, making it on your own. You want to do work that’s going to make a difference.
But, you need to think twice about taking that position. I know, you need the money. You’ve got student loans. And you won’t be a barista or working in retail forever, right? According to a CNBC report, of the 40% of college grads who take a position that doesn’t require a degree, 1 in 5 are still working underemployed 10 years later. These positions typically start around $10,000/year less than a degree-required starting position. You do the math about how far behind you’ll be 10 years down the road.
Mary Katherine C. – Experience was a huge hurdle for me. It was easy to find jobs, but not in my field. I had to work as a teller forever and as a secretary. I did a lot of stuff I didn’t want to do, but I would always find a way to work PR/Social Media (my career choice) into the jobs I did have. It took me 8 years to land a job in my field.
There are other opportunities out there. But if you stay too long, it can be harder to leave. Some employers only look at your past experience or they question why you didn’t find work in your field. Taking a “just get me by” position can make it harder to find one down the road. Studies show it takes the average college student 3 to 6 months to find employment after graduation.
What if I showed you a way to cut that time down and it was something your graduate could start before you donned that cap and gown?
First, let’s talk about why it’s hard to find the job you want. Of course, there’s competition. This year alone, there will be over 1,975,000 students receiving a bachelor’s degree. A record number of people go to college now. That means there’s more people fighting over the same spots. So the key is making yourself stand out.
Don’t assume a degree alone will get you hired. Find a way to get experience while you are in school. That can be through volunteering, internships, part-time jobs, on-campus positions and more. Never pass up a way to add a verifiable skill to your resume. And while you’re at it, make sure you can show the major skills employers today think college graduates lack. That includes: your work ethic, professionalism, critical thinking and problem solving, written and oral communications, and teamwork.
Start networking early. Use the career center on campus and check out local events hosted by the chamber of commerce. More hires happen because of referrals than from just submitting an application.
When you do submit a resume and cover letter. Make sure it’s professional and designed to make it through the Applicant Tacking Software many companies use to week through job submissions. This software kicks out up to 75% of resumes – sometimes for something as minor as formatting issues or font choices. And don’t forget, if your resume makes it to a real person’s desk, you only have about 7 seconds to make an impression that causes them to move you into the interview stack. Don’t get discouraged, there are several techniques you can use as you craft a cover letter and resume that can help you knock the socks off a hiring manager.
If you’re serious about lining up a career before you stroll across the stage and pick up your diploma, I’ve created a 30-day program that provides your graduate with the tools and strategies to get them noticed and land them in the interview seat. Check it out.