Posts tagged ‘Job Search’

November 18, 2013

College students think they’re ready for the workplace, but employers disagree

by Grace

College students consider themselves well prepared for the workplace, but hiring managers disagree.

Nearly 80% of current college students say they’re “very” or “completely” prepared to put their organization skills to work, just 54% of hiring managers who’ve interviewed recent grads would agree, according to a survey of 2,001 U.S. college students and 1,000 hiring managers, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of education company Chegg. …

Some of the biggest disagreements are about the students’ ability to prioritize, write well, collaborate, persuade, manage projects, and communicate.

… The biggest mismatch came in students’ ability to communicate with bosses and clients—70% of students thought they were primed for the challenge; only 44% of recruiters agreed.

Schools don’t seem to be doing a good job of teaching critical thinking.

“The notion that college graduates exit universities and lack the ability to clearly organize and communicate information suggests institutions are failing to meet their mandate of forming critical thinkers,” according to the report’s author….

Ruth Brothers, consultant and former human-resources executive, believes students need “more hands-on, applied learning” and coaching on interview skills.

How about if schools focus more on teaching “factual knowledge”, which is “intimately intertwined” with critical thinking skills, as a way to close this job skills gap.

… Dan Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is a leading expert on how students learn. “Data from the last thirty years leads to a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts, and that’s true not only because you need something to think about,” Willingham has written. “The very processes that teachers care about most — critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving — are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory (not just found in the environment).”

Interviewing skills may be the least of these students’ problems.

Related:  Five skills that will help you find and keep a job after college (Cost of College)

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September 24, 2013

Tips for jobless grads, with advice to see the upside of surviving the lean years

by Grace

20130919.COCLivingAtHome1Megan McArdle, who moved back in with her parents when she was 29, gives “13 Tips for Jobless Grads on Surviving the Basement Years”.

I like all her tips, which include some practical suggestions as well as some ideas to help lift a disconsolate spirit.

Even if they can’t find a job in their field, dejected college graduates should get a job and start supporting themselves.

Don’t say you can’t work a lesser job because you won’t be able to focus on your job search. After the first few weeks, your job search is not taking you 60 hours a week….

Don’t forget relationships, especially family ties.

Enjoy your time back with your parents. …

A potential upside to surviving the basement years

McArdle compares this crop of recent college graduates to the Great Depression kids.

12. That afraid feeling you have is never really going away. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but folks who were raised in the Great Depression were kind of neurotic penny-pinchers who fretted about financial security far more than the prosperous generations before and after. (Ask your parents about the older relatives who collected tin foil and rubber bands in big balls so that you could reuse them. I kid you not. That was a Thing Grandparents Did when I was growing up.) The bad news is that I, too, am also an obsessive penny pincher — after two years of massive job uncertainty, followed by more years of earning much less money than my student loans would suggest. The good news is that your fear will end up having surprising upsides: there’s a reason that the U.S. household savings rate peaked right along with the earnings of the Great Depression kids. When they retired, savings went off a cliff. So instead of letting your fear ride you, use it constructively, to make you thriftier and more careful.

Since I sometimes consider myself a “neurotic penny-pincher”, I can attest to the upside of surviving massive job uncertainty.  In my case, after a few golden years of a booming career in the oil business, the bottom dropped out and layoffs decimated the ranks of geologists working in that field.  Subsequent years of a dramatically downsized lifestyle taught me valuable lessons in thriftiness and the importance of saving.  If the same effect applies to today’s struggling generation, then a few years of basement living will not have been such a bad thing.

And let’s not forget that frugal people are more attractive.

Related:  No shame in living at home after college (usually) (Cost of College)

April 17, 2013

Quick Links – Women avoid science careers; electronic portfolios; Wisconsin’s ‘post-union era’

by Grace

‘Women With Both High Math and Verbal Ability Appear Less Likely to Choose Science Careers Because Their Dual Skills Confer More Career Options’ (University of Pittsburgh)

Study also finds that women with high math skills and only moderate verbal ability are the ones who appear more likely to choose STEM careers

Why are women with more options turning away from STEM careers?  Are they being steered away from these careers, or are they making choices based on their own interests?

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Electronic portfolios are becoming more accepted by employers.

Job seekers are increasingly using electronic portfolios as a way to:

  • showcase achievement
  • demonstrate learning and experience
  • give and receive peer feedback (privately or publicly)
  • achieve promotion, and much more.

Some universities host e-portfolios for their students, or other sites and resources can be used.  Clemson University has an ePortfolio Program with a gallery of  examples.

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In a ‘post-union era’, Wisconsin aims to reward ‘hard-working, high-achieving, and outstanding’ state employees.

After the “virtual elimination of collective bargaining and automatic dues collections” invalidated union contracts for Wisconsin state employees, the compensation system has changed from one that mandated automatic pay raises for all employees.

Bigger raises for fewer people

Under the discretionary merit pay program, fewer  employees received raises compared to the old collective bargaining agreement; the average raise was more money.

February 20, 2012

Five skills that will help you find and keep a job after college

by Grace

If you want to make sure you get a job after college…

1. Learn to sell. 
… if you’re really good at sales and your track record shows it, you’re always going to have a job….  Selling isn’t easy.  It’s hard work and it can be demoralizing.  That’s what makes the people who are good at it so valuable.

2. Learn to write really well. 
Writing is now many peoples’ preferred method of communication.  You simply can’t afford not to be good at it.  Clear writing is evidence of clear thinking….

3. Learn accounting. 
… It’s hard to envision a place of work that doesn’t have to manage money, pay employees, and make sure their tax returns are accurate.  All of those things depend on good accounting.

4. Learn how to keep computers working.   
If you can diagnose and fix computers, servers, and even networks, that’s a great line to have on your resume even if you’re looking for a job at an art gallery…. the one worker who actually knows how to diagnose problems and fix them, even though it’s not her job, is bringing a lot of value to the workplace.  She’s also saving the company potentially thousands of dollars in costs for outsourced IT support.  

5. Learn how to do good work.
The best way to get a good job is to be really good at your last job….every high school kid should get a part-time job at some point before you graduate…. You learn a lot about what you’re good (and not good) at, and what it takes to be successful.  Thrive at one job and you’ll have an advantage when you look to move on to your next one.  Have a string of successes by the time you graduate from college and you’ll be ahead of the competition.

Now, before you write off any of those as not being applicable to your field of interest, I’d just remind you that people who make yoga mats for a living still need to sell them.  Computer engineers still need to write emails and even proposals.  The head of a non-profit agency needs to know how to read a financial statement and balance a budget.  Anyone who uses a computer would benefit from knowing how to keep it working properly.  And since everyone leaves college hoping to get a job, previous work experience benefits every college grad.

This simple but wise advice comes from Kevin McMullin at Collegewise.

If you can combine #5 with any one of the others on this list, you will have a leg up on most of your competition.  The more of these skills you can add to your resume, the better you look to employers.  Any other ones you would add to this list?  (Showing up to work on time doesn’t count!)

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