The Wall Street Journal has an interesting and short article about today’s college seniors, the job market, and their prospects in it. It’s a brief piece that details the results of a survey of employers and college seniors applying for jobs after graduation that highlights just how disparate their views of the applicants are.
More than 60% of employers in the survey said applicants ought to be more familiar with the company and industry, and must ask better questions in interviews. Plus, those employers say, three out of four applicants fail to send thank-you notes after interviews.
The mismatch extends to hard skills, too. Engineering, business and computer science majors are in highest demand, with at least two-thirds of employers seeking graduates in those fields, according to NACE. But fewer than half of the students surveyed by iCIMS majored in those subjects.
College seniors feel good about their prospects: more than 90% of the students surveyed by iCIMS reported feeling confident about their interview skills. They also expect to earn over $53,000 in their first job, compared with average salary of $45,000 that recruiters expect to pay for those positions.
You have to wonder why students seem to be doing little to no market research. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have snowflakes who are incapable of functioning in the real world, because to their utter shock, that degree in feminist puppetry with a minor in tribal interpretive dance didn’t translate into a six-figure income job!
You know what employers want?
They want skills that will help the company produce and make profit.
They want skills that will allow the workplace to function and the business to create value.
They want someone with an understanding of how business and finance work.
They want someone with communications and people skills. That means someone who will respect the right of others to have dissenting views to their own, and who won’t be a chronic complainer about perceived slights and offenses at the office. Those things tend to impact morale.
They want someone who brings value to the table, but also realizes they have a lot to learn and is willing to learn it.
They want someone who understands that having graduated college doesn’t make them experts on anything – it mostly makes them newbs with some book smarts.
Look, I may come across as an uber bitch online, but I also understand this type of attitude won’t fly in all situations. No, I don’t curse up a storm at work, although depending on the frustrations of the day, some sort of F-bomb will fly out of my mouth on occasion. I know what I don’t know, even though I have a Master’s Degree and *mumblegrumble* years of experience, and I listen intently and take notes in meetings and briefings. I am certainly NOT entitled to a raise or a promotion, unless and until I prove myself worthy.
The snowflakes of today seem to be convinced that not only should they do what they love (I would never discourage that), but that they should get paid for it regardless of whether or not an employer needs skills in pussy hat knitting.
Today’s parents and high schools are doing young people a disservice by encouraging them to consider themselves and their needs superior to the employers’.
We hear the “do what you love” mantra coming from parents and educators on a regular basis, without any regard for the market and its demands. And because of this we have a bunch of kids who are graduating college with skills employers generally don’t value or want, but we found the curriculum exciting and fascinating. Exciting and fascinating is great, but it’s not going to pay the bills if there’s no demand.
Additionally, kids are being released into the world with an bloated sense of self-importance. What they want matters. Their opinion counts more than anyone’s. They’re important. They’re special. They’re entitled to the best. That kind of attitude translates to an unwillingness to consider what it is that actual employers seek, and what the market for their skills looks like. When you’ve been told your entire life that the only thing that matters is what you desire, you lack the ability to comprehend that there’s a whole world out there that may or may not match your needs and desires, and you can’t imagine why in the world what you love won’t pay the bills.
You want to be an artist? Great, be an artist. The world needs talented and creative people. But if you’re assuming that employers need your “Booger in Snowfall” wall art, and you are amazed why the green snot you placed on a white canvass won’t get you into an engineering or accounting job, you have no further to look than the nearest mirror. Study what you love, but be realistic about the job market, do your research, and have a fallback skill you can use while you’re creating that “Booger in Snowfall” masterpiece!
And then there’s the interview… Oh man!
In the survey two-thirds of employers noted that the applicant didn’t even bother sending a note thanking them for their time. Hate to tell you this, folks, but these are managers. They’re busy people, who have money to offer you for your skills, and who have taken the time out of their busy day to talk to you and perhaps offer you an opportunity. They’re not there to sell themselves to you, but quite the opposite. They are there to see if you – out of the hundreds of applicants for what may be a decent-paying, fascinating step in the door to an exciting career – might be a good fit. And yes, they offer money, benefits, and sometimes even catering, personal training, and beanbag chairs in exchange for the skills you bring to the table. They’ve got a ton of applicants who are competing for that position, so it would behoove you to 1) put your best foot forward, and 2) thank them for their time.
Research the job and about the company. Asking informed questions about the work, and not just about how much vacation time you’ll get and what your holiday bonus will look like, tells the employer that you’re interested in the actual… you know… work! It tells them you cared enough to do your homework, that you understand their mission, and that you are willing to learn to do the job right.
And ferpetessake, wear a damn suit!
I once interviewed a guy who came in wearing khaki slacks that looked like he had just dragged them out of the laundry basket, a pink polo, and a wrinkled grey jacket. No tie. No energy. He mumbled his words, had no idea what our agency did, and didn’t even bother updating his resume with his most current job, even though we found out he had been working in a “new” position for a year and never bothered updating his CV with his current experience.
He also didn’t bother tailoring his experience to the kind of work we did, so we would know he had something to offer despite the fact that his actual work wasn’t a match.
“I noted that your office works on *insert issue here*. While I realize my previous experience and education aren’t an exact match, let me tell you how my schooling and the previous work I have done can actually be an asset in this environment!”
That tells me the applicant at least understands the mission of the office, and can think out of the box how his or her experience will help advance it.
In other words, no one owes you a job. No one owes you a huge salary out of the gate. Temper your expectations, and remember, you are the applicant. It’s up to you to prove yourself, and in order to do that, you need to do some work.
Failure to do so will more likely than not have you working the fast food counter.