According to a recent New York Times editorial by Matthew C. Klein, a 24-year-old research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, “the millions of young people who cannot get jobs… are in danger of losing their faith in the future.”
Klein also laments that unemployed grads “are indefinitely postponing the life they wanted and prepared for,” and because of the tight job market, his generation “will have lost years of career-building experience”.
It’s unfortunate that recent college grads are having such a difficult time finding jobs. But what’s more unfortunate is that their deeply flawed communications skills are making them unhirable.
The reason why grads are failing in their messaging efforts is because they mistakenly believe that hirers are looking for candidates with the most impressive credentials to fill open job roles. In the pre-2007 world, that may have been the case, but in the current contracted job market, the reality is quite different.
Grads are also following the direction of career specialists whose guidance is based upon pre-2007 assumptions, and who haven’t recalculated their information to be more appropriate for current job market conditions.
The grads’ misunderstanding of existing job market realities, coupled with the outdated advice of the specialists, have resulted in three fatal mistakes that are causing grads to struggle in their job searches:
1. Resume overconfidence
After graduating from college or graduate school, most young adults have built remarkable resumes for themselves, replete with notable accomplishments, credentials, and experience (ACEs). These ACEs have been carefully chosen and developed over many years with a single goal in mind: to create employment opportunities at firms that would recognize the talent that the grad possesses, and can bring to their organization.
The problem is that most grads have never figured out, or are unable to explain, how their ACEs would benefit the organization that they wish to work for. This would include how their ACEs would help them make an organization money, save it money, or enhance its image in the marketplace. These three benefit areas are what firms expect their new hires to produce, and if a job candidate is unable to clearly, concisely, and convincingly explain how he/she can make them happen, the organization will hire someone who can – even someone with a less imposing resume.
Solution: Grads should focus less on the content of their resumes and more on how this content would help deliver profits, savings, or improved brand awareness to a prospective employer.
2. Incomplete or non-existent research
Career specialists suggest that job candidates do research on the companies where they’d like to work. The research that’s recommended includes going to the company’s website and learning the history of the company, the names of the principals, etc.
If a grad truly wishes to receive a job offer from a particular organization, this kind of scant, incomplete investigation will not get him/her hired. Instead, grads should seek to become experts in the company, the company’s industry, and the company’s competition in order to explain how his/her ACEs can help the firm to reach its goals.
Grads need to visit the “Media” or “In The News” pages of the company’s website to survey the company’s developments, initiatives, and plans. They must study business intelligence sites such as Hoovers.com and Vault.com to find out about the accomplishments and culture of the organization. They should also search for articles, analyses, and coverage of the company in leading business journals and industry trade publications, and then contact the writers of these pieces to discuss the company’s successes, failures, and challenges. To stay aware of the most recent news, they should sign up for Google News Alerts about the company.
Solution: Grads must conduct strategic, comprehensive, and resourceful reconnaissance on the company where they want to work. Their newfound knowledge would allow them to explain how their ACEs would help them to be an asset for the company.
3. Absence of an interview strategy
Armed with their golden resumes, many grads go into job interviews with the mentality of “here I am, here’s what I’ve done, what do you think?” When jobs were plentiful and organizations were scrambling to fill their ranks with top tier talent, that strategy was successful.
In the job market of today and through the foreseeable future, grads must shift their focus from accumulating ACEs to implementing them. And in their job interviews, they need to follow a precise plan of explaining how their vast achievements can help a company to realize its objectives and overcome its challenges.
Solution: Grads must use their interviews as an opportunity to speak less about their need for a job and more about how they can help a potential employer meet its need for a solution.
It wouldn’t be difficult for today’s grads to shift their messaging approach to be more employer-centric. If they begin and stick to the above described process, they’ll get improved results in their search, and eventually, an offer for a job that they truly want.
-- Rafe Gomez, The Rehirement Coach
Rebutting Matthew Klein: A Middle East-Style Revolution in the US?
New York Times Editorial
Rafe Gomez is business strategy and marketing communications consultant, and the author of the audiobook WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? A POWERFUL NEW INTERVIEW STRATEGY TO GET YOU HIRED IN TODAY’S CHALLENGING ECONOMY, available on Audible.com. His rehirement guidance has been featured on MSNBC, Fox News, CBS Radio, Foxbusiness.com, and PBS. Follow him on Twitter @rehirementcoach