Professional & Graduate Studies

How to Find Jobs in this Economy

April 2, 2014

The statistics are sobering. 7.9% of recent college graduates are unemployed, and 36.7% of recent grads are working in positions that don’t require a degree. As the US economy continues to recover, the class of 2014 faces a grim outlook when it comes to finding jobs and paying off student debt loans- which average around $29,400. What’s a Gen Y-er to do to get a leg up in the sluggish economy?

As our infographic below shows, combining a strategically planned education with useful skills, a strong network, and an authoritative voice can help a millennial stand out when applying for jobs. Check out our research to see how you can market yourself to different companies and make yourself recession-proof.

How to Find Jobs in this Economy infographic


Although it may be tempting to buck the trend and skip college, Brian Brosko, Director of Recruiting at Performics, urges millennials otherwise. “A Bachelor’s degree is absolutely essential for just about every open job that I’ve recruited for over the last 20 years or so,” he says, noting that it’s very apparent when a candidate is lacking Bachelor’s degree.

Of course, it’s not enough just to skate through college and major in whatever catches your eye first. Making strategic choices about your educational path can improve your chances at being employed after graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest growing industries are home health care, individual and family care, outpatient/lab/ambulatory care, management/scientific/technical consulting, and computer systems design.

Emphasizing the importance of education, Dr. Graydon Dawson, Chair of Graduate Studies in Management at MidAmerica Nazarene University, reminds us that “we need to keep in mind that our students are competing in a ‘global’ economy and that our nation cannot remain globally competitive if our workforce is not equipped to be the best.” Education is crucial for our nation to keep up with the rest of the world.

Even if a degree or career change seems impossible, most of the employability gap comes from skills shortages. LinkedIn’s list of 2013’s hottest skills includes trendy skills like social media marketing, mobile development, and digital/online marketing, as well as technical skills such as cloud and distributed computing, user interface design, statistical analysis and data mining, business development, and information systems. Millennials can improve their technical skills with free websites like Coursera, Codeacademy, and Google Code University; internships also help students prepare themselves for the job market.

However, the skill gap isn’t completely limited to technical and computer skills. Dawson points to research that shows that the top five reasons careers of top executives get derailed all have to do with lack of people skills. Couple that research  with research from the Hanover Group that reports that people skills (over quantitative and analytical skills) are greater factors in contributing to promotions, raises, and upward mobility, one can clearly see the data suggests that those with higher communication and collaboration skills will have better success in the long-term job market.

People skills and communication skills are also important in the networking aspect of the job search. Major social media networks, like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can give millennials an idea of what’s out there; from there, they can refine the search. Bosko advises that “a more refined/targeted network should be more efficient in achieving the individual’s end goal, and this network can be further focused through in-person meetings, joining specific groups, reading, writing or commenting on career/industry specific items or ideas… in other words, being a bit of a thought leader/sharer in your chosen area of interest regardless of your experience.”

Kimberly Palmer, author of The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life, agrees with Bosko that it’s possible for students to establish themselves as authorities, especially through blogging. And in the meantime, Palmer also advocates for college students starting side businesses while still in school. Palmer mentions sites like Etsy, Fiverr, Elance, or Freelancer as debt-free ways to launch a side business; moreover, she believes that this entrepreneurial spirit helps revitalize the economy.

“Entrepreneurs help make the economy a vibrant, existing place full of possibilities. Many college grads want to do both- create their own business and also find a full-time job, and they increasingly juggle both. If they have trouble finding full-time employment, their side business helps supplement their income and give them more experience.”

Other smart ways millennials can prepare themselves for life after graduation?

“Focus on building experience and knowledge around the fields where you want to build your career,” advises Palmer. “If you really love the field, then you’ll enjoy the process- read everything about it and get to know the field’s leaders.”

As the saying goes, if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. By pairing your passion with the skills, entrepreneurship, and authority that hiring companies are seeking today, you’ll be one step closer to landing your dream job- and paying off that student loan.


Dr. Graydon Dawson is the Chair of Graduate Studies in Management at MidAmerica Nazarene University

Brian Brosko is the Director of Recruiting at PerfomicsPublicis Groupe’s lead performance marketing agency

Kimberly Palmer is the author of The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life

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