Too many American workers are not equipped for today’s rapid pace of change in which jobs come and go, and skills can rapidly become obsolete. In today’s increasingly global economy, technology and innovation will play an increasingly large role in America’s ability to employ recent college graduates and to maintain its leadership in the world marketplace. Many employers are only now emerging from an environment of survival, with marginal growth and low profit strategies. Unfortunately, there is no magic potion to cure this problem for new graduates. However, three important challenges for a new graduate coming out of college as they look for employment in this global competitive society are:

1. Gaining relevant work experience – gaining relevant work experience is a challenge for new graduates. Most employers are looking for a candidate that can add value to the position from day one. Most college graduates cannot do that without the proper framework and adequate support from the hiring manager or a team member. Often more than not hiring managers and downstream team members are already tasked with deliverables that require a large portion of their time at work to be focused on those deliverables; thus, leaving minimal time to provide the adequate support to a recent graduate, who brings a theory, based skill set to the team without practical real world application. Never the less, recent graduates can gain work experience by undertaking a graduate placement or internship. Even if a graduate can’t commit to a long unpaid internship after graduation, some companies may offer recent graduates a chance to help with temporary projects. Graduates can make a list of the companies that are of interest to them and start inquiring about internship possibilities. In addition, graduates can make sure their eagerness to work and do a good job is properly represented on cover letters and interviews. Graduates can mention non-career related work held throughout academic studies, ask professors for leads, join professional organizations related to degree specific field of study, and despite the difficulty of trying to gain relevant work experience, it’s important to make sure the position you accept is really a fit.

2. How to handle underemployment or malemployment – college graduates working in jobs that do not require a college degree is very likely in today’s competitive workforce. In the 2000s, with job losses prevalent and masses held captive in positions that have gone stale, underemployment has become a sign of the times. If a college graduate is in this position a couple of things can be done. Keep all credentials up to date by continuing education. Acquire any needed professional certifications. Maintain people skills and presence in the community by volunteering or teaching in degreed area of expertise. Keep professional network healthy by pinging contacts at appropriate intervals. Lastly, leave no stone un-turned.

3. Mental and emotional stamina – in this global competitive society we are in today, not being able to obtain relevant work experience, or having to deal with underemployment / malemployment can be extremely mentally and emotionally challenging for some. At the end of the day having resilience along with proper mental and emotional health will sustain you through the process. Being emotionally and mentally healthy doesn’t mean never going through bad times or experiencing emotional problems. Everyone goes through disappointments, loss, and change. While these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. The difference is that people with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This ability is called resilience.  One of the key factors in resilience is the ability to balance stress and one’s emotions. The capacity to recognize one’s emotions and express them appropriately will help graduates avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative mood states. Another key factor is having a strong support network. Having trusted people graduates can turn to for encouragement and support will boost their resilience in tough times.

 

Incumbent Worker Challenges

The incumbent worker in corporate America also faces his or her own challenges to survive in an ever-changing workplace.  One of the challenges for incumbent workers in a global market, workers must embrace new technology and skills and become lifelong learners. In “Society 3.0: How Technology Is Reshaping Education, Work and Society,” Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti explains how the international business environment will transform old ideas of hiring, worker skill requirements and career planning, while inspiring solo entrepreneurs to innovate in profitable new ways. Another new global workforce reality is overseas competition. There are significant gaps between the skills workers offer and those employers require. If the gap is not properly addressed by incumbent workers organizations risk losing business and jobs to foreign firms with better-educated staff that will do it cheaper, faster, and better. Lastly, workers need to think of themselves as a walking business. Workers need to diversify their portfolio with needed knowledge, skills, and aptitude. Workers need to think of brand recognition and how they are perceived to their bosses and subordinates. Workers need to find innovative ways to continually be seen as an asset and not an expense.

 

References:

Wilen-Daugenti, T, (2012). Society 3.0. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Scheetz, L., & Michigan State Univ., E. t. (1998). Recruiting Trends, 1997-98: A National Study of Job Market Trends for New College Graduates among 477 Businesses, Industries, and Governmental Agencies. 27th Edition.

Nelson, R. B. (1982). The Job Hunt: The Biggest Job You'll Ever Have. A Practical Guide for New College Graduates. Revised Edition.