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Four years of college and a diploma aren't enough to prepare recent graduates for the work force. A majority of college career center directors cite students' lack of motivation as recent graduates' biggest barrier to finding a job.
According to a new survey by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) on behalf of the Career Advisory Board, established by DeVry University, 56 percent of career center directors said students' lack of interest in formal career preparation and professional development is preventing graduates from finding a job. An additional 47 percent said students lack the motivation to look for a job.
"Students are missing an opportunity to benefit from the full range of services career centers provide while they are still in school. College and university career centers offer tools and coaching to empower students to succeed in their job search. They are more than just job placement centers," said Alexandra Levit, business and workplace consultant and Career Advisory Board member. "In today's competitive employment landscape, the interview coaching, job search guidance and even simple 'resume review' that campus career centers provide can make the difference in getting their first job."
The Career Advisory Board came up with the following tips to help recent graduates prepare for job hunting.
- Expand networks– Conduct informational interviews with mentors in their mid-20s who can provide advice on how to most effectively position their background and experience in a specific field.
- Customize your resume – Review sample resumes in their desired field and craft them in a way that will interest an employer immediately. Also, customize the resume with keywords from their target position's job description.
- Practice, practice, practice – Rehearse quickly and succinctly, communicating results from past jobs or internships, always asking, "Why was this organization better off because I worked there?"
- Seek guidance – Practice interviewing with a coach or career services professional to learn the appropriate level of formality and insightful feedback on what skills and experience to emphasize as well as do's and don'ts.
- Show enthusiasm– Present themselves as can-do enthusiastic employees who are humble and eager to learn.
- Consult resources – Review expert materials on transitioning from college to career including books, articles, DVDs and blogs. Learn how to convey the right first impression, understand expectations, acquire important transferable skills, manage stress and negativity, and add value to organizations.
"The Career Advisory Board research raises the need to get college students motivated to pursue their college career center resources," said Ed Koc, director of strategic and foundation research, National Association of Colleges and Employers. "In a competitive job market, new graduates must be prepared to present themselves in a way that translates their academic accomplishments and knowledge to the skills and experience employers are seeking."
The research was based on the responses of 593 college career center directors.