Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Helping that College Grad Land a Job

The Associated Press reports that last year 53.6% of graduates who had ever earned a bachelor's degree and who were under age 25 were either jobless or underemployed. This is the highest percentage in over eleven years. In 2000, before the dot-com bust wiped out telecommunications and IT jobs for graduates, the percentage was down to 41%. Also in the report were metrics indicating that recent college graduates were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and food service personnel than in fields which actually required a college education. Those who were employed in offices were much more likely to have been hired as a receptionist or payroll clerk, or cashiers or retail clerks than in a skilled position. It also reported that government projections indicate that only 3 of the 30 occupations with the largest number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor's degree or higher to fill the position. The three professions with this distinction are teachers, college professors, and accountants. Most job openings will exist for jobs which cannot be easily replaced by computers, such as retail sales, truck driving, and fast food. For all the good that derives from technological innovations, it also results in what the famous Austrian-American economist, Joseph Schumpeter, termed "creative destruction" where jobs are destroyed and new skill sets are required. Creative destruction is the price of advancement. There wasn't much need for the horse and buggy after the automobile was invented. Kodak refused to accept the reality that digital cameras had changed the film industry, resulting in its bankruptcy filing. Creative destruction is magnified in a world where major revolutionary technological advances are brought to market practically every six months. While it is true that technology has resulted in creative destruction, job seekers today, and especially the younger, less experienced ones, have to go beyond traditional means and think and act in ways of creative construction as the means to overcome this creative destruction. Making connections on a proactive basis rather than reactively responding to a job posting is especially important for young graduates today because not only are they competing with so many of their own demographic, but they are also seeking to fill jobs held by a massive baby boomer generation and beyond who refuse to retire from the workforce. Since 2008, the number of employed age 55 and over has steadily risen, growing by over 4 million, while the number of jobs for all workers dropped by 8 million and is still down by over 4 million. There are many ways in which young grads can bring energy, enthusiasm, and productivity to a company. But, the graduate has to create the opportunity and sell the need. I believe that prospects for employment currently have and will continue to have less traction going the traditional route. Job hunting through traditional means has the odds unfavorably stacked. There are too many applicants for too few advertised job openings The grad who learns about an industry, and learns the skills necessary to enhance the company's bottom line, and actively focuses and markets and sells this need will have job offers from employers who never thought to hire, much less advertise for employment. This will require learning how to network and arrange informational sessions and follow-through. Tenacity will go a long way. I believe that there are jobs out there that don't actually currently exist, but are there for the taking for the interviewer/networker who takes the initiative and creates and sells the need. Creating and selling the need are skills that are not generally taught or stressed in college. Hence, very few graduates possess them. Yet, these are the very skills necessary not only to land the right employment opportunity, but they are also the same skills which every business requires in order to grow and prosper. So many young people are innovative when it comes to computers and technology. They need to channel this energy in ways in which they are both unaware and uncomfortable. Instead of waiting for the existing employee to leave behind a position to fill, your child or grandchild or niece or nephew or friend needs to just get out there and "play in the traffic." Speaking of traffic, the road to success is always under construction. We have to persevere and continue driving forward. I have built my practice in this way, with sufficient dents to prove it. And, I would be honored and humbled to meet and/or speak with any friend or relative who you think would benefit from these perspectives and straight talk. Respectfully, Greg Gann