Graduates Learning Two Big Lessons About the Job Market

I read a New York Times article that got me thinking about students today. Recent graduates are learning two big lessons about the economy and the current job market in particular.

Lesson One: A larger percentage are taking jobs in the social sector, working for the government or for non-profit organizations since jobs in the corporate world are slim. The lesson: They end up doing good since the economy did them wrong.

“In 2009 alone, 16% more young college graduates worked for the federal government than in the previous year and 11% more for nonprofit groups, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the American Community Survey of the United States Census Bureau. A Labor Department survey showed that the share of educated young people in these jobs continued to rise last year.” Sometimes over 100 applications are received by non-profits for one position, and many are from Ivy League schools. Applications for AmeriCorps have almost tripled between 2008 and 2010. Applications for Teach for America rose 32%. It seems the spirit we saw in earlier Millennial generation kids has re-surfaced due to the sour economy.

Lesson Two: There actually are jobs available, but not in the positions graduates are ready to take. College graduates continue to discover that they are not prepared for the market that exists. In my state, our Superintendent of Education told me last week that tens of thousands of jobs remain open—but students majored in subjects that are irrelevant for the job market. For instance, the number one major that remains unemployed is psychology. The market is flooded right now with students who are interested in this field, but only the gifted ones make it.

Perhaps we’ve placed so much emphasis on strengths—we forgot to talk about opportunities and needs in the marketplace. Success comes when our gifts intersect with a real need; when our passions align with an opportunity.

Actions Steps For Students:

1.  Study the opportunities and needs in your desired field of work.

2.  Be willing to start at the bottom on the ladder and work up.

3.  Discover your strengths but examine how they can actually be employed.

4.  Don’t pursue what you can get out of a job, but what you can contribute.

I’m curious. What have you discovered after working with students and helping them find their strengths. Where do you see them fitting into our market? 


Graduates Learning Two Big Lessons About the Job Market