New Grads Not as Hireable as They Think

Many graduates lowball what they expect they’re worth by about $10,000.

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Lindsay Olson
So you’ve graduated with your bachelor’s degree, and you’re ready to jump into corporate America. Only no one is calling you back about the jobs you’ve applied for. Unfortunately, finishing college and heading out into the workforce is not as easy or lucrative as it once was for young grads.

A study by American Express, in conjunction with its Build Your Career Bootcamp, reveals some sad facts:

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•    Many graduates lowball what they expect they’re worth by about $10,000. Aren’t universities giving college students real data about income expectations? A quick trip to would give you a rough estimate of what you could expect to make in your field. Is this creating a generation of workers who are accepting less than they’re worth?

•    Social media has deteriorated young grads’ writing skills and ability to focus on a task. Many graduates assume that knowledge of social media would be an asset to their resumes, when in fact the communication style they’re using for sites like Facebook and Twitter is far from what the AMA Manual of Style taught them in Comp class. Also, jumping from social site to social site is apparently shortening their attention spans.

•    They still need advice. Even after graduating, 73 percent of these Millennials need more career advice on topics like interviewing or negotiating salary. Seems college isn’t preparing students quite like it should for the work world.

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Jobs Can be Found if You Know Where to Look

Though the survey provided a bit of doom and gloom, the good news is that some industries are hiring a ton of grads, including:

•    Health Care

•    Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

•    Internet Marketing

•    Web Design

Knowing what hiring managers look for will help you tremendously in your job hunt. According to the survey, 62 percent of hiring professionals say they look for solid communication skills and a good attitude when interviewing. They also examine a candidate’s qualifications and skill set, knowledge, work history, and educational background.

[See Job Outlook Improving for the Class of 2012.]

But does it really matter what your degree is in? Is it simply enough to have a degree? Not so, according to the hiring managers, 55 percent of which said that a degree in technology or business (52 percent) were the most sought after degrees for employers. At the other end of the spectrum, only 8 percent of employers looked for a degree in entrepreneurship, and 6 percent thought a liberal arts degree was useful in the workforce.

Make Yourself More Marketable

To keep yourself from being a degree-holding barista, brush up your resume and interview skills, and do some research on the job you want. Know what skills are required and what salary you can expect where you live.

If you are still in college, find out what jobs you can get in your field. If your industry is one that’s not hiring many grads, consider switching majors or adding a more marketable minor to give yourself the education and background employers seek.

[See What the American Jobs Act Means for You.]

If you’re well-versed in Twitterspeak, make sure you know how to switch gears when it comes to writing essays, letters, and other forms of communication where 140 characters won’t suffice. If your attention span is short, blame it on Facebook, and work on improving your attention span.

Above all, be realistic about what to expect at graduation. Not every grad, even one who’s at the top of their class, gets their dream job (or even a job at all) upon finishing college. Some take jobs they don’t love, and leave them within a few years. Others work in jobs that are not aligned with their majors. Some take part-time jobs until something better comes along. Given the fierce competition in the job market, it’s a good idea to open your options to whatever comes your way.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.