Share This

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Student Employment Gap in US for the Class of 2012

My company, Millennial Branding, partnered with Experience, Inc. to release a study  of 225 US employers called the Student Employment Gap. The study reveals information about employer skill requirements and sources of hire for the class of 2012. The findings were released this morning and I spoke to Jennifer Floren, the founder and CEO of Experience, Inc., about her impressions of them. Jennifer is also the author of The Innovation Generation, a speaker, and is on the board of Jobs for the Future. Experience, Inc.’s network consists of 3,800 universities, 100,000 employers, and over 8 million students and alumni.

What is your overall impression of the internship/entry-level job market? 

Generally, I believe the internship and entry-level markets are heating up in many ways.  More and more employers are realizing that they’re about to face a labor shortage as their Baby Boomer workforce retires, and the competition for up-and-coming talent is becoming stronger.  That said, there is still a significant difference between what employers need and what college students are prepared to contribute.  For entry-level talent that can demonstrate a go-getter attitude, strong communication skills, independent thinking and teamwork, there are many exciting options out there.

Based on the study, what skills do employers look for when hiring recent graduates?

It’s clear based on the data that employers truly value the so-called “soft skills”, such as analytical thinking and communication ability.  I think this speaks to the fact that specific on-the-job skills change, and they change more quickly these days than ever before.  As a result, employers are looking for raw material — talent that they can work with and develop, people who can adapt to changes over time.

Why do you think that employers are still using job boards over social networking sites when recruiting?

Employers use what works.  Although more and more hiring is happening on social networks, employers still want to make sure they are casting a wide net to access talent everywhere possible.  As the world has become more online and social in general, the talent pool has become more fragmented — there are so many sites and channels and platforms and communities being used these days that employers need to publish their opportunities in more venues to make sure they’re seen.

What stood out to you the most in the study?

To me, the most interesting thing about the study was the apparent communication disconnect between employers and entry-level talent.  Employers say they need soft skills… yet entry-level candidates often do not understand which classes are relevant for which career paths, or how to express their soft skills in ways employers understand and appreciate.  Employers say that relevant coursework is highly valuable, yet they rarely communicate their messages to younger students — so how are students supposed to know which courses to take?  If the message of what employers need isn’t getting to a younger audience, then our talent pipeline isn’t going to be well-prepared when it comes time to enter the working world!

What are your top three pieces of advice for college seniors right now?

My top three pieces of advice are simple:  get involved, build relationships, and find inspiration.  Getting involved can include building your resume with internships are — but ANY form of experience is what employers are looking for (it doesn’t have to be an official “internship” per se).  When considering entry-level talent, employers look at your past experiences for demonstration of your ambition, your interests, your skills and aptitudes, etc.  Class projects, student government, volunteering, even being active within your church or family — any experience can showcase how you can contribute to an employerso get out there and get involved!  Second, build relationships.

All hiring is personal — and whether you meet your future hiring manager or a mentor who can help make introductions that get you in the door, ‘who you know’ can make a big difference.  Introduce yourself and stay connected — relationships make a big difference.  And finally, find inspiration.  Loving what you do will give you the passion to be successful, resilient, persistent and optimistic — and finding what brings you true passion is a process.  So try things out, explore!  Youth is a time of discovery, and no one expects you to have all the answers yet — use your time to sample different organizations, areas of study, types of jobs or projects – you’ll hone in on what really gets you excited, and loving what you do is the ultimate success!

Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting firm.  He is also the #1 international bestselling author of Me 2.0 and was named to the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list in 2010. Subscribe to his updates at
Related posts:
American mounting student loans a 'debt bomb' waiting to explode! Inside America’s Student Loan Bubble!
American Student Loan Debt: $1 Trillion and Counting
America, a "Generation of Sissies"
A "great haircut" for U.S. growth