Many in the Class of 2015 are searching for jobs, and as summer approaches, they are worried about how long it will take to find one. Some graduates are even wondering if the last four, five, or six years of college classes were worth it.
“There are great skills that come from just the process of working towards a degree,” said Douglas Marriott, director of the Los Angeles Valley College Cooperative Education Program and Job Resource Center. “Every year there are upwards of five million new jobs.”
Still, the Labor Department reported last month that unemployment for Americans in their 20s who earned a four-year or advanced degree last year, has increased to 12.4 percent. The rate climbed about 1.5 percent since 2013.
“Even though there are increases in jobs, there are more people going after your job,” said Patricia Gaynor, Assistant Director of CSUN’s Career Center.
In order to stand out, some graduates search for ways to make their resumes more competitive, including deciding to get a master’s degree.
“With a graduate degree, you’d have more specific skills to share in the workplace,” Marriott said.
“Degrees and education are never a waste,” Gaynor said. “Sometimes we may use them as a way to sort of sway away from where we want to go right now.”
One problem employers face is finding people with the proper training, even for entry level positions.
“What we are finding right now is that there are more people that just don’t have the skills for the jobs,” Gaynor said.
According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Medical Technology and Nursing are the two majors with the lowest unemployment rate.
“Any kind of technical background is going to be more needed,” Gaynor said, adding that engineering is another area with low unemployment. Gaynor said graduates who keep up with the newest technologies will also have an advantage. “Whether it’s public relations or it’s working in an office, you still need to keep those skills up, and you still need to be aware of what’s going on in the world and what is changing.”
But Marriott said employers are also seeking people with degrees in English or Liberal Arts because of the skills they develop in school. Communication, friendliness, and leadership ability are all examples of so-called soft skills, also called emotional intelligence, skills many employers seek in their recruits.
“I think it’s a matter of the applicant or candidate aligning their transferrable skills to the job that they want,” Marriott said.
Marriott said interacting with potential employers through events such as job fairs can be a good way to establish a relationship.
“There are many jobs that aren’t advertised,” Marriott said, noting many employers may already have someone in mind for a position. “They think of somebody and refer them.”
Plenty of resources are available for soon-to-be-graduates who are looking for work, including help with resumes, cover letters and developing interview skills.
“I would encourage students to stay positive, quantify their experience, and give themselves credit for all the skills they have,” Marriott said.
“Sometimes [getting a job] can take awhile,” Gaynor said. “It’s going to happen. You just can’t give up.”
Moderator: Briseida Holguin
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