There is both good and bad news for job prospects for college graduates. Which do you want first?
Let’s start with the bad news.
•First, the job market is very competitive. The reasons lie in a steady number of graduates each year, almost 2 million, with only about 17% going on to graduate programs. Therefore, there are many freshly-minted grads looking for jobs, and they do so among the unemployed, slightly over 5 % of the population, and the underemployed, just above 12%. You are just one of many knocking on doors of businesses and companies hiring.
• At the same time, the number of jobs, although greatly increased since the 2007-2008 economic down turn, are not increasing. Falling oil prices have hurt a wide range of job opportunities. Also, there is a slow growth rate in the American economy along with tightening of corporate budgets and lessening of work force size to keep profits up.
• Wages, too, are flat and have remained so since 2000. The average salary is $35,000 annually, $9,000 less for women. Student debt is heavier at the same time.
There is good news, however.
• STEM grads are demanding higher salaries and getting them.
• The DC area has excellent job growth and opportunity.
• The health care industry is very fast-growing.
New graduates should be aware of what faces them once they have their diplomas in hand. Employers do not see recent grads as skilled, while new grads feel self-assured. This disconnect should cause college graduates to consider the abilities employers are looking for: leadership, teamwork, written and verbal communications ability, work ethic, professional demeanor, some tech savvy, and having the ability to think on your feet and problem solve. Try to demonstrate your skills in these areas as you apply and interview for a job. The diploma is not enough to speak for you.
Also college grads should take advantage of what the college offers them before they leave. Use the campus career center, develop relationships with your professors and ask them for recommendations, and, finally, contact school alumni who are in career fields that you have an interest in and network with them.