With a strong economy, low unemployment rate and a job market flush with opportunity, it should be a good summer for college graduates jump-starting their careers.
Despite a rocky job market over the past few years, surveys conducted by job boards like CareerBuilder.com have shown that hiring managers (survey participants) continue hiring recent college graduates, despite the doom and gloom we hear from other sources. In fact, hiring managers are expected to hire more recent college grads this year, and at higher salaries, which makes the entry-level job market look brighter.
With that sunny outlook in mind, there’s a paradox that many college graduates face. Employers want experience.
College grads usually don’t have.
So, what do you do when you’re a new grad with no work experience?
This is the common Catch-22 of the entry-level job. Of course, 22-year-olds fresh out of college have spent their time in school, so on-the-job exposure is going to be non-existent. The part-time job at Taco Bell during the summer is not likely going to be relevant to that hard-earned degree in marketing.
Here’s what you do…
The first thing the college grad must understand is that employers don’t simply base hiring on the years you’ve spent in a particular field, especially with entry-level jobs. Recruiters looking for entry-level employees are equally concerned with finding candidates who are diamonds in the rough. Their long-term potential, interpersonal skills, and leadership abilities are just as important as applicable experience.
Just because you’ve spent the past four years in college polishing up that economics degree doesn’t mean you won’t have some of the know-how employer’s desire. The internship is the key experience tool college students use to acquire the skills of their desired field.
Internships are also an opportunity for students to apply their classroom comprehension into real-time situations. This allows the student to receive hands-on training while testing the waters of his or her own career choice.
Employers love college graduates who have gone through an internship in a related field, but there’s more they’ll be looking at on the resume than an entry-level job seeker might be unaware of.
Any activities during those years of college that can be translated into the everyday working world are valuable.
Volunteer work, student government, and even team sports are excellent indicators that a potential hire has the ability to work together with others and possesses leadership qualities.
Whether you’re captain of the basketball team, student body president or volunteered on a school political campaign, companies are always looking for campus involvement.
The way a job recruiter sees it, someone involved in a handful of activities while pursuing a college degree is someone who can manage time effectively. And using time wisely on the job means a better bottom line for any company.
Once the internship and campus activities have been applied, there are still more skills that shouldn’t be left out. Any know-how gained that can be used on the job is important for a recruiter to hear.
If your desire is to be a Web designer, the technical skills acquired during the past four years and mastery of different types of software is vital.
If you’re a communications major, but want to be an event planner, experience putting together parties, fund-raisers or other exhibitions are relevant talents.
With thousands of entry-level jobs out there this summer, college graduates simply shouldn’t take their experiences for granted.
Whatever company you’ve targeted, do the research first, find out what their culture is, and leverage every possible amount of past experience you have when applying for the position.