Alumni face tough market
Job seekers hunting for jobs need to prepare for a different type of job environment which focuses on temporary positions and is project oriented.
Marilyn Wade, assistant director of alumni career services, gave advice to job seekers yesterday in the Women’s Resource Center.
“The current job market is very different from the job market of generations past. One of the things that have contributed to that is that US manufacturing has been significantly reduced over the past 40-60 years,” Wade said. “We’ve gone from a product-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. This is the information age and many businesses are outsourcing to other countries.”
The job market has become increasingly competitive, making it harder for everyone, especially new graduates, to get and retain jobs.
“Work has become more project based. That is why businesses are more apt to hire temporary workers. Over 25 percent of new jobs are temporary jobs,” Wade said. “It used to be that all you would have to do is get good grades, graduate and you would have a job waiting for you.”
A change occurred in the job market that has caused employers to train employees for a longer amount of time in order to keep them for the long run.
“Now there is no implicit contract between the employer and the employee,” Wade said. “Employees can’t expect to be taken care of by employers. It used to be that the employer would give employees the right kind of mentorship and training to continue within their job. Now, employees have to take care of this themselves.”
Employers wanting to streamline their businesses are looking for self-sufficient, self-contained workers with well-rounded skill sets that are self-confident in their abilities, whatever those abilities may be.
“The thing you have to take from this change in the economic landscape is that you always have to be prepared and always have to think about what is best for you. Keep your skills fresh, keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date, keep your contacts intact,” Wade said. “It’s like saving for retirement. You start from day one. Always think — What happens if this job goes away tomorrow?”
Wade suggests students start looking for experience, even unpaid, that relates to their chosen profession now. Specifically, experience that all employers like to the see such as management, organizational or communication skills.
Networking has become the medium through which most people get their jobs.
“The biggest challenge for the job seeker is trying to get into the network,” Wade said. “Every students needs to join a professional association with a student chapter affiliated with your major now. They will all have connections to the local chapter of that association.”
An important aspect of the job searching process is being able to sell yourself.
“If you can’t convince an employer, if you don’t have the confidence, it’s going to be a challenge,” Wade said. “These are things that a professional, at any stage, has to have no matter what path you choose.”
Some employers are turning to look at grades as well.
“Since people are so competitive, grades really matter,” director for the women’s resource center, Beverly McPhail, said. “The job market is looking for any cutoff they can use to pare down the numbers. So, they’re using GPAs. Just getting B’s doesn’t cut it anymore.”