The Realities of Post-Recession Employment for College Grads

college-graduationAlthough the recession has officially ended, some college students are still struggling to find employment relevant to their degrees after graduation.The future is starting to look better for students earning degrees in advertising, finance, human resources, and marketing. These degrees will fare best in this changing marketplace with demand expected to increase by as much as 5% this year. The news is not all good, though. Degrees such as computer science and engineering are experiencing weak growth. In a recent MoneyWatch article we learn that this weak growth is attributed to the increasing demand for students with associate’s degrees in applied engineering, computer science, and healthcare technology; demand for these associate’s degrees is up by more than 30%. Things are looking bleak for future MBAs as well. More people are earning advanced business degrees and, with demand for MBA positions expected to decline by 6% this year, the applications process for these coveted positions has become highly competitive. Again, the news is not all bad; demand for MBAs may be fading but an associate’s degree in business is among the degrees expected to be in demand in the near future.

While the employment scene is starting to look better for college graduates in certain fields, employers are remaining cautious in this post-recession period. With the fiscal cliff looming in Washington and the European financial crisis possibly jeopardizing international business affairs, employers are reluctant to risk expanding their own businesses and are hesitant to increase employment opportunities in this unstable financial market. Furthermore, some employers complain that college graduates do not understand the realities of the workplace and are ill-suited even to the limited career opportunities available to them.

Experience is Key

To compete in this uncertain employment market, students are encouraged to gain as much work experience as possible during college and to pursue internships in their field of interest. They are advised to get started as early as possible, with some students creating profiles and posting resumes on professional networking sites as early as their senior year of high school. USA Today College discusses the ways in which students can enhance their resume and gain experience while still in college in their article Beating the Odds: Getting a Job After College. Students unable to find internships in their field are encouraged to find volunteer work related to their course of study. Any related experience whatsoever can help students gain a valuable edge in the application process. When it comes time to apply for the elusive post-graduation job, academic advisors and career counselors emphasize the importance of the cover letter, the resume, and interview skills. While many college students do not yet have direct experience in these jobs, they should have a set of pertinent skills that they can show employers.

The recession has ended but the effects of the recession linger, negatively impacting recent and future college graduates. Demand remains low for many degrees even as it rises for a few others. However, students attending college should attempt to make the best of their experience and should take advantage of every opportunity available to them while they complete their degrees. In this economy there is no guarantee of finding a job even with a college degree, but this does not mean that jobs do not exist. It simply means that students need to learn to market themselves to employers.