Job tips for new college grads
Though many college students dream of the day they will walk across the stage and receive their bachelor’s degree, the reality that awaits many after the last
note of “Pomp and Circumstance” has been played may not be what is expected because job availability remains bleak. According to an analysis of government data conducted for the Associated Press, nearly 54 percent of bachelor’s degree holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed in 2011. That’s the lowest such level in more than a decade.
Some analysts have begun to question the value of a college degree for recent college graduates who have student loans to pay off. But the concern should be less about the value of a degree and more about how recent graduates can find jobs in an economy where a lack of professional experience might make them more affordable, but ultimately less valuable to prospective employers. The following are a few tips recent college grads can employ to increase their chances at finding a job.
• Use the resources at your disposal. Even if it may seem you’re on your own the moment you put away that cap and gown, there are resources at your disposal. Your university’s alumni career center, for example, has helped graduates find jobs in what has proven to be a historically bad economy over the last several years. Alumni career centers often sponsor networking events and will help recent graduates craft their resumes. Graduates who went to school away from home can still tap this potentially valuable resource even if they’re no longer nearby campus. Chat online with an alumni center representatives and access online video workshops that offer anything from interviewing advice to how to write a better cover letter. Other resources may include your parents, their friends, your own friends who have already found work or anyone else who might share their experience and advice.
• Look for jobs in fields that are expanding. Though it might seem as though no job fields are fertile in the current economy, that’s not true. Green jobs and jobs in the field
of health, for instance, are growing and projections indicate that growth is expected to continue in the years to come. Such fields are likely to have more entry-level positions available, and entry-level positions do not typically target experienced professionals.
• Consider moving. One of the biggest advantages to being a recent college graduate
is freedom to move around. Few have spouses or children to consider, and even fewer have a mortgage to pay. Having so few strings attached to you can work to your advantage — allowing you to relocate to a stronger job market even if you don’t already have a job offer in hand. As the economy has struggled, many companies have been forced to cut back, and one of the cutbacks many companies have made is reducing their relocation budgets. A 2009 poll from the Society of Human Resource Management found that 58 percent of companies had reduced their relocation programs, while 17 percent had eliminated such programs entirely. Simply put, companies have begun to limit their hiring to local candidates. If a particular company has caught your eye, consider moving to where that company is located. Being local might just make you a more attractive applicant.
If no company has caught your eye, consider a relocation to a city with strong prospects for an unemployed person. A U.S. News analysis of statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and job aggregator Web site Juju.com indicated that Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Boston, Massachusetts were the three best cities for an unemployed person to find work. In ranking the cities, the analysis considered the number of individuals per advertised job and the city’s overall unemployment rate. Other locales, including Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and St. Paul, Minnesota rated highly as well. Recent college graduates with nothing tying them down might want to consider relocating to a city where their prospects are stronger.
Though there is no magic formula new college grads can employ to find a job, there are ways they can increase their chances going forward.
Some Careers Might Be Recession-Proof
In light of the global economic downturn that began in late 2008 and continues to make its presence felt well into 2010, many of the nation’s college students are wondering which fields might prove recession-proof down the road.
While there are no guarantees when it comes to employment, a recent survey by Forbes magazine found that the health care industry is the most solid at offering careers with job security. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2010 witnessed continued job growth within the health care industry, adding another 27,000 jobs.
Arguably no job proved more recession-proof than that of registered nurse. Of course, today’s college students and even recent college grads should know that America has experienced a nationwide shortage of registered nurses. While that’s good news for nurses currently looking for work, it is unknown whether the nursing shortage will last or that nursing will remain a field where opportunity abounds. Still, nursing and residential care facility hires totaled 9,000 in March 2010, accounting for one-third of all health care industry hires that month.
Tomorrow’s financial advisors might also be looking at bright futures. In spite of the economy, financial advisors figure to be in high demand. Economists note that companies that suffered during the economic downturn might be in need of financial help to assist them and ensure they can survive the next recession. So in spite of a sometimes negative public perception of the financial industry stemming from the economic downturn, the need for financial professionals will likely grow stronger post-recession.
Another industry that figures to continue growing in spite of the recession is the computer software industry. As companies increasingly embrace technology to perform more complex functions, graduates with a background in computer systems, including those who majored in Computer Information Systems, can expect their forecast to remain very good and salaries to continue being among the most attractive.
Deciding if grad school is right for you
The year 2010 saw women surpass men in advanced degrees for the first time ever. So says the United States Census Bureau, which found that among adults 25 and older who earned a master’s degree, 10.6 million were women and 10.5 million were men.
Such statistics illustrate how women are increasingly positioning themselves for career advancement. Though there’s no guarantee that an advanced degree will advance a career, the appeal of an advanced degree and its potential impact on career aspirations is something many women are finding too difficult to resist.
But there are a few things women should consider before they begin their pursuit
of graduate degrees.
• Immediate career implications: It’s common to think of the future when weighing the pros and cons of graduate school, but women currently working in their fields should consider the immediate implications of pursuing an advanced degree. Graduate studies require a much bigger commitment than undergraduate studies, and that commitment could negatively impact your current employment. Though it’s possible to attend graduate school part-time, some programs insist students attend full-time, which might make it impossible to maintain your current employment and attend graduate school at the same time. Consider the immediate ramifications of attending graduate school, and decide if those consequences are worth the effort.
• Finances: Pursuing an advanced degree is considerably more expensive than pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Women should examine their finances and decide if they are willing to take on student loans or pay for graduate school from their own savings. If you decide that taking out loans is worth it, it helps to know that many programs only offer financial aid to full-time students. If you don’t plan to attend graduate school full-time, you might need to find other ways to finance your education.
In addition to the cost of attending graduate school, also consider the impact such a decision will have on your earning potential, especially if you will be paying out-of-pocket. Established professionals already earning good salaries might find the cost of an advanced degree and its possible effect on future earnings doesn’t add up. However, younger college grads whose careers haven’t taken off or even begun might earn considerably more money if they earn advanced degrees.
• Need: Some people pursue a graduate degree because it’s necessary in order for them to advance their careers. Others do so because of external factors, such as a poor economy, that are making it difficult for them to gain entry into their desired fields. Before going forward with your pursuit of a graduate degree, research your field to see if such a degree is truly necessary. An advanced degree is desirable in many fields but not necessarily all of them. If your career has been steadily advancing without the help of a graduate degree, then you might not need one after all.
• Time: Working mothers are typically busy enough without the added burden of attending graduate school. If you have children and need your current salary to support your family, then you might find you don’t have the time to pursue an advanced degree. If you can afford to quit your job, however, graduate school might work, though it will likely require sacrifice on the part of both you and your family.
For the Parents: Welcoming young adults back into the home
To current college students or recent graduates, the prospect of moving back in with Mom and Dad is not likely to be met with open arms. Once kids taste the freedom of living on their own, their return home to reside under their parents’ roof can feel limiting.
Despite the difficulty of such a decision, statistics indicate that more and more young adults are returning to live with Mom and Dad. A 2011 report from the United States Census Bureau revealed that the number of men between the ages of 25 and 34 living with their parents had increased dramatically over the previous six years. By 2011, nearly 20 percent of men in that category lived with their parents, a six percent increase from just six years earlier. That increase was far less significant among women of the same age, but 10 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 34 lived at home.
The end of this trend is seemingly nowhere in sight. Statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that as many as 50 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 are underutilized. This means they are unemployed, working only part-time or working jobs considered to be outside the college labor market and don’t require a degree. Without an opportunity to gain valuable experience and advance in their fields, these young adults are essentially stuck in limbo and might be forced to live with Mom and Dad for even longer than they initially anticipated.
While it’s easy to imagine this transition has been hard on young adults, it’s likely no
easy task for their parents either. A struggling economy that has produced a stagnant job marketplace has made it difficult to pinpoint just when, or if, young adults will move out for good, which can put a crimp in their parents’ retirement plans. For example, the 2011 TD Canada Trust Boomer Buyers Report revealed that 17 percent of Baby Boomer parents who planned to downsize their homes, and save money as a result, are delaying those plans because they have adult children still living at home. The survey also revealed that a significant portion of those parents who don’t plan to downsize admit that their decision to stay put was made with the expectation that their adult children will still be living with them when they retire.
To some parents, having the kids back at home is a great experience that breathes new life into their empty nest. For others, relationships can quickly grow strained, creating a tense living situation that no one enjoys. To make the most of living with young adults who have returned home, consider the following tips.
• Encourage children so they can get where they want to be. No
matter how accommodating their parents may be, no young adult wants to live at
home, especially if they have recently earned a degree they thought would springboard them into a life of independence. But parents can help their kids in ways that go beyond just giving them a place to live. For instance, encourage kids to pursue internships even
if they have already graduated and those internships are unpaid. Such opportunities, even
if they don’t pay, can be a great chance for young adults to gain entry into their chosen fields. Since most parents don’t charge their kids rent, the lack of pay shouldn’t be much of a problem, and parents should explain to their children that they will support them so long as they are actively pursuing opportunities within their field.
• Emphasize that your home isn’t a dorm or college apartment. Just like kids don’t necessarily want to move back home after college, parents don’t want their homes to resemble a dorm or college apartment should their kids move back in after graduation. When young adults move back in, parents must make it known that their sons or daughters are no longer kids and they will not be allowed to live in messy bedrooms or leave dirty dishes and laundry for Mom and Dad to clean. Be firm and forward when letting young adults know that, while you’re happy to give them a place to live, your days tidying up after them are over.
• Eventually, consider charging rent. Most parents don’t want to charge their children rent. After all, young adults are moving home to save money, not spend it. But it can be very easy for young adults with no rent to pay to grow lazy in their job pursuit or to develop an attitude that rent-free living is for them, even if they do find a job that enables them to support themselves. This can complicate matters down the road, so if young adults have been living at home a long time without paying a dime in rent, it’s time to start asking for money. Do this more to motivate young adults than to meet your own financial needs. In fact, when you start collecting rent, and if you don’t need the money, simply put it aside and give it back when young adults decide they do want to move out of the house.
Nowadays, more and more young adults are moving back in with their parents. Though such living arrangements might not be ideal for parents or children, there are ways to make the best of the situation.