Last year I had the chance to speak with FM WRHU in New York. The station is affiliated with Hofstra University, so as you can imagine the topics centered on recent college graduates and their ability to find work in their field of study.
I carefully monitor the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ various reports related to unemployment, but when you want to review the unemployment rates according to educational attainment, the reports only identify the breakdown for 25-year-olds and older. (The June 2014 unemployment rate for those over 25 years old with a college degree is 3.3%.) Since we’re essentially looking at under 25-year-olds, we need to rely on surveys and polls that are theoretically less accurate because entities such as the Economy Policy Institute (EPI) and universities will use census bureau data as well as information from the Department of Labor to interpolate those statistics.
Even so, I’m willing to give those assessments the benefit of the doubt. The numbers are icky. The EPI indicates that roughly 8.5% of college graduates between the ages of 21 and 24 are unemployed (between April 2013 and March 2014). That percentage, of course, doesn’t show the entire picture–with the EPI also estimating nearly double that percentage (16.8%) underemployed. That is, those graduates are either unemployed or employed in a part-time or full-time position not necessarily requiring their well-earned degree.
How can a recent college graduate combat those daunting statistics? There are three key actions you can take to improve your chances of finding a job out of college.
Expand your network. Make it your mission to meet as many people as possible. (Actually, do this for the rest of your life and hang on to every phone number and email address you accumulate. You will need these again at some future point in your career. Trust me.) Join relevant networking groups. Use the social tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to expand your network. That will give you more visibility to what opportunities are available in the market. If you do identify a job opportunity at a particular company, you might improve your chances if you’re able to identify someone you know that works there.
Improve your interviewing skills. Books like Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired will certainly help you with that. There are also loads of other resources available. Check out the career sites.
Improve your knowledge–and credentials–of the subject matter. Seek training courses or certifications you can achieve in your area of study that would make you more marketable. Keep in mind, that while it may sound obvious that a recent college graduate is a more cost effective resource for an employer, they also come with less experience. If you can somehow neutralize the latter point, it’ll help.
Lastly, treat finding a job like a full-time job. The more opportunities you provide yourself the better chance you’ll have. Keep a positive attitude. Take action. Most importantly, continue to network with your friends, family, and common interest groups. Lastly, did I mention to make sure you keep expanding your network?