Good news for hopeful college job seekers: according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to increase the hiring of college graduates on average by 8.3 percent this year.
Reasons for the increase include business need, company growth and anticipated retirements, but the survey also said, “respondents cited the importance of hiring new college graduates to fill their talent pipelines, as these new hires will eventually become the future leaders of their organizations.”
K-State Career and Employment Services also reported that 94 percent of K-State’s graduates in 2013-14 are currently employed or pursuing advanced degrees, which is up 1 percent from the previous year.
“I do think that the slight increase is an example of a recovering job market that is being experienced across the nation,” Keri Keller, executive director of CES, said. “A lot of the information provided by the National Association of Colleges and Employers says that there is improvement among many peer institutions like ours. However, I do think that K-State students are able to weather the ups and downs of the job market a little bit better than maybe some institutions, because I think there really is a strong commitment from the university, faculty and the whole campus community for students to be successful after graduation.”
Newell Bowman, a May 2012 alum, landed a top internship with an insurance company two months before graduation. After she got her diploma, however, Bowman realized that an insurance career wasn’t quite right for her.
Three months later, though, Bowman found a job that she felt truly comfortable in. Now working on a marketing team at the largest retirement community in Kansas, Bowman said she was able to get to her dream job through her effective methods of networking.
“I probably received about 10 requests from employers to interview with them simply from my networking efforts,” Bowman said. “I developed my LinkedIn profile and joined some of their ‘groups’ for K-State Alumni. I also joined groups in the industry I was interested in and would narrow down their membership to K-State alums only. I would find their information and call them on the phone to ask them for coffee so that I could find out more about how they got to where they are. From there, I would learn about their stories and, in the meantime, gain trust in our newly formed professional relationship. Everyone wanted to introduce me to other people in the industry in order to help me find the right job because they knew I wasn’t simply there to ‘find a job’ as much as I wanted to learn what I could about the industry and their work so that I could have success too.”
Bowman kept in contact with Keller the summer after she graduated and said Keller gave her valuable advice to keep in mind during her job search.
“She encouraged me to stay true to my networking process and wait it out for the right job, and that made all the difference,” Bowman said. “My first job led to a promotion six months later, and the job of my dreams a year after that. A willingness to take a job that is an entry-level, stepping-stone role will ensure your ability to have the career you dream of sooner than you think.”
Kosh Khan, a December 2014 alum, was able to find a job by meeting employers at a career fair organized by CES and currently works as a financial adviser at Renaissance Financial.
“I knew I wanted to be a financial adviser, so there were other companies that I was looking at, but I didn’t know about Renaissance until the career fair,” Khan said. “Then I found them, interviewed with them, and that was the one I liked and that was the one I picked.”
Career fairs like the one Khan attended are just one of the many ways CES tries to help students find their path during their academic career and after graduation. Keller said that CES exists to be a source of support and help as students make this transition. They provide year-round services, and are readily available for in-person, online and phone consultations.
“We also provide our services up to a year after graduation and then we have a partnership with the K-State Alumni Association,” Keller said. “If you’re two years out or 20 years out, you can also still be supported by the university in terms of help with your job search and sorting out career options.”
On the CES website, there are helpful links on how to create a strong resume, how to dress in professional settings, interview practices and several more tips on how to present yourself to a potential employer.
One of the biggest mistakes Keller warns against is allowing or missing errors on resumes.
“An automatic killer sometimes for students is having lots of typos and grammatical errors,” Keller said. “Employers sometimes are just looking for some of those ways that they can weed out people and if you can’t pay careful attention to the detail of your resume, the employer may be worried that as you prepare for important correspondence on the job, you may make errors that cost them money.”
Keller advises people to do their research on employers beforehand; anything less is sloppy. She also said it was important to be mindful of not only your words, but also the way you present yourself.
“You have to remember that your communication is more than what you say,” Keller said. “Your body language and tone of voice is very important to go along with the actual words and content that you’re sharing. You have to make sure that all those things go together and we do lots of mock interviews with students. We have a video-based practice module that students can do and you can assess your own skills and see what you look like as if you were going to go through a interview.”
In terms of advice, Khan stressed the importance of not putting on a mask just to impress employers.
“Be yourself and don’t put on a show,” Khan said. “People will hire you for who you are.”
In the end, potential could be boiled down to actions and performance, rather than what could solely be listed on a paper.
“What I believe to be most important about receiving your undergraduate degree is the personal development that takes place throughout the process,” Bowman said. “This is the time where you are discovering all that is possible for your life. I have found that those who focus most on their personal development in and outside of the classroom have the greatest success in the ‘real world.’ Employers will always hire the candidate with the greatest personal and professional development. (They) want someone they can trust, count on to pull their weight, add something to the team and someone who is ready to tackle whatever task the job brings in the most efficient and effective way. In today’s world, your degree will not land you the job you seek if you cannot do not carry those traits.”