An expanding market for college graduates

The new labor scenario


By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español


May will mark the end of a very unstable period for college students across the United States because they had to finish their careers in the middle of a pandemic. They survived, exceeded expectations, and today they are ready to begin their professional lives. What awaits them?

“New graduates must highlight everything they learned during this pandemic when they begin looking for job opportunities. Due to the circumstances, they are going to be the most adaptable individuals applying for any type of position,” says Devin Rogan, associate director of employer engagement at the University of Miami Toppel Career Center.

This is due to the fact that with the arrival of the coronavirus, they had to adapt their classes and work schedules and opt for internships completely online while in a fast-paced context that was changing depending on what was happening with the virus, which, in result, made them gain resilience and flexibility.

College students evolved together with the labor market that little by little started introducing new trends such as the acceleration of digital environments, automation, remote work and the rise of e-commerce. All of them existed before the pandemic but became more widespread and strengthened with this.

“Remote work accelerated 4-5 times compared to 2019,” says Adriana Wetsel, career coach and co-founder of the firm True Career Solutions. The coronavirus also encouraged people to learn new skills with the online courses boom, made digital presence and reputation more important than ever, and gave a broader space to online interviews and virtual networking that arrived to stay.

The new graduates will begin their professional life in a market under these paradigms to which they are very familiar. “Digital transformation is highly trendy and they have a great domain of social networks and virtual environments. With training, they will be able to find employment in related areas,” adds Adriana Wetzel.

In this regard, it must be said that, despite popular belief, influencers do not necessarily represent competition for graduates. “Although it’s true that there is a lot of hype in this type of content and, sometimes, those who work as influencers have a higher income than that of traditional careers, in this market there is room for everyone”, adds Wetzel.

A similar opinion is shared by Rogan, who considers their success lies in the fact that they found their audience and have been able to take advantage of a previously acquired knowledge or skill. “However, they represent a very small percentage of the market,” he says.

He also adds that many have transferred their traditional careers to social media, opening up new possibilities to create revenue. For example, college graduate musicians who activate a YouTube account to comment on the music industry.

But speaking of traditional careers, one in which there are plenty of opportunities is the medical field, especially everything related with technology applied in health care. Sales and business development, education, virtual financial services, psychology, and coaching are also other industries that are rapidly growing.

For Devin Rogan, there is currently a great need to hire employees for the areas of health care, construction, and all technical industries where the demand is still very high.

But what about hiring levels? Although at the beginning of the pandemic they slowed down for the general population, today they seem to be on the right track, especially for college graduates.

According to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers project hiring 7.2% more new college graduates from the class of 2021 than they hired from the class of 2020.

“Recruitment processes have speeded up because people are beginning to have more confidence in hiring virtually. Employers are being optimistic due to the reopening of the economy, the distribution of vaccines, the addition of new jobs, and the federal aid,” says Paula Restrepo, also a career coach and co-founder of True Career Solutions.


How to be successful in your job search?

Within a job market that is rapidly recovering, it is key to make the right moves to stand out. According to Devin Rogan, those who make connections as much as possible will be able to do so. “You have to establish direct contact with professionals in your field of ??interest or with recruiters,” he advises.

Rogan explains that 85 percent of the jobs that are filled is by connections. “It isn’t enough to send a resume because you can be disregarded for not putting the right keywords. Schedule a 15-minute phone call for you to ask questions about the company or to talk about how your experience can add up. Having extra initiative can make the difference between getting hired or not,” says Rogan.

In addition, you have to take advantage of virtual networking that for employers has become a profitable way to find talent because they do not have to worry about logistics such as booking a venue for 100 people, for instance.

“Although we no longer see many companies organizing events aimed solely at one university, but rather a zoom meeting with multiple schools and multiple students, recruiters leave their contact information and those who attend are at an advantage over those who decide not to attend,” Rogan says.

According to experts, although virtual networking does not replace face-to-face networking, it does complement it and at this time it’s emerging as a winning formula to attract talent and find a job.

“Workers need to embrace technology, prepare for virtual meetings, know the do’s and don’ts, and take the time to create a competitive LinkedIn profile,” advises Wetzel.

Another trend that can be used to gain work experience is the increase of project-based jobs and internships. “People who do internships have a greater chance of getting hired,” says Rogan.

So while you land in your dream job, show proof that you haven’t wasted your time, whether with jobs of the sort or through courses. “With projects and internships, you learn a lot of things that can be put into practice in a more established role. Someone that has done three internships and three LinkedIn Learning courses could get hired for an associate position instead of being recruited for a junior one,” shares Rogan.

In a nutshell, recent college graduates have higher chances to succeed if they hunt down all the opportunities available to them, understanding that the current job market requires daring, flexible, and adaptable professionals inclined to self-learning.



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