Getting a job after college using a graduate certificate has become too difficult for graduates nowadays. Reports of graduates’ expectations versus reality or rather the graduate employment gap show that only about half (50%) of graduates get a graduate-level job after obtaining their graduate certificate. And a big percentage of this number get the jobs more than six months after finishing their course.
In most parts of the world, the current generation (the millennials) is simply given one option or path to life and that is going to school, getting a degree and then getting a job. And most spend all their time, effort and money working to achieve this goal. But only to realize after graduating that the economic promise of this path does not materialize so easily.
But why? Why is it too hard for a graduate to get a job after college?
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In the 1980s and 1990s, it was almost a sure bet that one was guaranteed to get decent employment after leaving college without the need to even go for masters or PhD. At that time most of those who took it upon themselves to study were not too burdened with student debts. In some countries, like Kenya, they were given some facilitation which they were not obligated to pay after completing school. Also, industrial automation wasn’t there to replace them at work.
Fast forward to the current situation. Almost every country in the world offers student loans to their students, which they are obligated to pay once they complete their studies and get a job. Making matters worse, the loan starts accruing some interest (like in the case of the student loan offered by Kenyan HELD) immediately the stipulated learning period for the student ends. And if the student takes 1, 2, 3 etc. time to get his first formal employment, the loan will have doubled or tripled creating such an overwhelming burden.
Is the current economic framework to blame?
The world’s economy is largely controlled by companies and industrialization. The companies are the ones that have the money and jobs. And they are the ones that decide whether to hire or not and whom to hire and whom not to.
If your skills are not needed by these companies then you may not be lucky to succeed in the employment sector.
But although the current ‘framework’ is to blame for incentivizing people, a lot has to do with the mental attitude of graduates. Most of them go through school with only one view of life: finish school and get employed by a big company.
But how many companies are out there and how many graduates are graduating annually? Is it possible for the companies or industries to absorb all?
Why don’t graduates think of ways to create employment instead of waiting for one? After all, even the owners of the big companies started somewhere!
Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD in the UK said,
“Many people in ‘graduate jobs’ are actually in roles that don’t require degrees, and with the spiralling costs of university students need to ask themselves whether a degree path is the best route into their career… We need much better careers advice and guidance to ensure that young people are equipped with the information they need to make informed decisions, alongside high quality alternative vocational routes into employment that offers routes other than university education.”
To better understand and address the reasons why it’s hard for graduates to secure their first job after obtaining their graduate certificate, we shall look at some of the contributing factors.
Reasons why it is so hard to get a job after college
- High competition
The world’s population has certainly become more educated than in the past and there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of graduates leaving college annually. And with such a big number getting into the job market annually, it becomes extremely difficult for a graduate to stand out even with excellent scores.
- Little or no work experience
Most students do not get a chance of working on their coursework. And those who get the opportunity often work in fields outside their career path.
Also, although universities introduced opportunities for students to get internship opportunities in various companies and industries, the time frame is usually too constrained for the students to learn enough work skills.
Most job adverts will require a certain level of job experience and having just graduated, the grates find it extremely difficult to even get a job to apply to.
- Lack of the required skills
Going through college and attaining high grades is different from acquiring the skills required in the job market. Unfortunately, most high scorers only focus on books without focusing on the larger picture of learning valuable skills like communication skills, and something unique in their area of specialization that will make them stand out among the rest.
- Lack of networking
Some call this knowing someone.
It is often important for graduates to exchange information with people who have a common interest. This way, graduates can get wind of job opportunities or even learn of certain skills that are heavily required in the job market and therefore work on horning them.
- Lack of follow up
Most university graduates often lack follow-up once they submit their resumes or after attending an interview.
Most companies put more consideration for people who follow up. It shows their interest in the position and if they have the necessary skills, they will certainly be considered in the place of those who came to the interview and left waiting for the company to call them back.
- Poor career choices
Unfortunately, most graduates come to realize that they have no interest in their degree after graduating. They were not correctly advised when making the career choice and they end up not pursuing their area of specialization.
Tips on how to get a job after college
- Work on your communication skills
Communication skills are very essential especially when it comes to communicating your qualifications to a panel during an interview. How well are you able to articulate ideas and present yourself?
And this goes beyond the interview. It is also required when it comes to talking to customers or communicating with your colleagues.
You should take advantage of networking opportunities and events that place you in front of industry or company professionals who may become your possible employers.
Sometimes, an introduction from a friend is all that is required to make that first impression on an employer. These areas are also prime places to get business cards and in case of a vacancy, employers may reach out if they were impressed by your personality.
- Apply to internships
Most graduates are of the notion that they cannot work for free after completing school. Not knowing that that is the best opportunity they have for acquiring the required job skills and job experience that will be required in most job advertisements.
Besides the internships that are sponsored by educational internships, graduates should apply to as many internships as possible. After all, the internships keep them busy before they can get their first job.
Internships are always the best way to start your employment career.
- Enhance the resume/CV
Most graduates struggling to get a job have poor-quality resumes. It is very difficult to impress with a poor resume even with great education and experience.
Creative industries, for example, prefer CVs with colour and style, showing off the graduate’s qualifications. Other industries prefer single-page resumes that only list the most important information.
Graduates should do extra research about the industry they are interested in to find out which type of resume would make the best impression.