Young: Grads can capitalize on improving job market

April 25, 2014 

Stacey Young

— Since the Great Recession began in 2008, new college graduates have struggled through a persistently volatile job market. And while the outlook has improved for new grads — nationwide hiring of new grads is expected to climb 8 percent over last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers — competition remains fierce for the best jobs that enable young people to begin a meaningful career.

As the human resources manager for Verizon Wireless, I work with job seekers on a daily basis, and I would like to offer some tips to the Class of 2014 to help them take advantage of this improving job market.

First, use your university’s career-counseling program. One important benefit of these programs is that they can help you refine so-called “soft skills.” In a recent survey by Adecco, 44 percent of hiring managers cite gaps in communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration as key weaknesses for today’s grads. Strengthen your soft skills by taking part in interview prep events on your campus, join a young professionals’ networking group, and look for occasions to interact with a diverse group of professionals. The more people who know your character, skills and availability, the better.

Second, don’t assume you know a company until you do your research. For instance, I often speak to recent grads who are surprised to learn that Verizon is hiring for more than just retail store positions. Midlands job seekers will find many local companies, like ours, that are committed to offering new grads broad career-development opportunities with competitive salary, benefits packages and work/life balance initiatives.

Finally, don’t let graduation put the period on your learning experience. Stay engaged in your field while you’re searching for your first full-time job by participating in professional seminars, webinars and classes. Through continuing education, you may also uncover job leads with companies that are not actively posting positions on job boards.

We’ve all heard it said that people change careers several times in their professional lives, and yet as a young college graduate, it can be easy to feel like the job you find will define you for the rest of your life. Few of us take the path we expect to the career of our dreams, but doing a little research may reveal more paths exist to your post-college success than you realized.

Stacey Young

Columbia

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