Who Will Hire the New College Grads?

A lot of recent graduates are worried that they’ll have a difficult time finding a job right now, and it’s attitudes like these from employers that won’t help them feel any better about it:

Every C.E.O. I met described recent graduates as lacking the skills and discipline required in today’s workplace. They complained that young employees deemed themselves entitled to promotion before mastering their assigned tasks. All concluded, in effect, “Let them grow up on someone else’s payroll.”

I replied that my interviews with young people showed that many had records of part-time jobs and excellent grades at selective schools that seemed to make them promising candidates. But executives countered that recent graduates had emerged from universities whose weakened requirements didn’t prepare them for the complex jobs that companies must now fill.

Robert Goldfarb, the consultant who interviewed these C.E.O.s argues that graduates with broad educations bring in fresh ideas that can change “outdated practices.” Also, I’d like to know who all these entitled young people these employers keep complaining about are, because they’re ruining it for all the hardworking new graduates who are ready to roll up their sleeves and work their way up from the bottom.

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19 Comments / Post A Comment

OllyOlly (#669)

As much as I complain about my job, I was very lucky to find a place that didn’t require me to have the specific skills I needed for the job, but was just looking for a condidate they could tell worked hard and would fit in well at the company. Most “entry level” job postings I come across want to to already have experience in what you will be working on, it is like entry level doesn’t truely exist anymore.

And I feel many places then only accept people who could have worked unpaid internships for a year of more (well in DC this is more prevalent) which leads to only the types of people who can afford to work unpaid internships being hired.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@OllyOlly The “experience” requirement also has another insidious counterpart, which is that the skills you develop in a first job, one you may have just taken for a paycheck, becomes the only criteria employers see as your “qualifications”. For instance, I took a temp job answering phones in a car dealership during college. From then on, the only jobs I could be considered for were customer service jobs, since that’s where my ” professional experience” was. Never mind my degree in publishing, or my ability to quickly learn new processes and procedures…all “entry level” jobs wanted experience, and my experience was now in something I really didn’t enjoy and had planned on doing as a short-term thing. The worst part was, despite attempts to break into my chosen field, I was eventually recruited for another job in customer service that paid slightly more, and then another that paid slightly more…and woke up one day realizing I’d spent six years in a field I never intended to be in. Luckily, I had developed a few other skills by then and created a resume that didn’t say “customer service” basically anywhere on it, which finally allowed me to land a job in the field I wanted. However, the “experience requirement” probably set me back two or three years in my career, honestly!

@julebsorry This has happened to me, and to quite a few of my friends. I am finally in a position that I really enjoy (event/meeting management), but I spent far too many years trapped in what I call ‘the administrative track’. I worked for non-profits, then I was a teacher, and then I worked lots and lots of temp jobs, which all left me with…administrative skills. That bleak existence in which you hope you at least work for a company you support, rather than a faceless entity trying to shuffle product/people/whatever.

One of my close friends is still stuck on that hamster wheel, where experience is the despair spiral.

sintaxis (#2,363)

@Jake Reinhardt Oh man, I picked up an administrative assistant job when I moved to a new city three months ago and am terrified of ending up on the administrative track. How’d you get out of it?

oiseau (#1,830)

@sintaxis Ugh, me too – my best guess is grad school? Or networking with people in a field you’re interested in? Or pitching people at your company where you’re an admin assistant on your talents in other areas? Or blind luck?

Would love to know how other people do it??

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@oiseau I was stuck on the admin track for about 5 years. Going back to school did not help me (although I was getting a BA and not a master’s degree). What I eventually did was build up enough other skills/experience through my admin jobs that I could design a resume that essentially hid that what I was doing for many years was answering phones and scheduling meetings (much like julebsorry’s trick to getting out of customer service). But that last two years of picking up lunch and ordering office supplies damn near killed me.

(I will say that my post-admin job is actually, literally my dream gig, and I would not have gotten it if I hadn’t developed the skills I learned working as an admin for so long. I say this not to rub anyone’s nose in it, but to provide anecdotal evidence that at least some employers are willing to see those skills as transferable and you can land a completely amazing job once you manage to break out of the cycle.)

sintaxis (#2,363)

@MuffyStJohn Interesting! That kind of resume manipulation is what I’ve done in the past to tailor to specific industries (I have a Marketing resume, a Tech resume, and a Translation resume that I tweak and blend as needed)- but one of my main fears is getting stuck in the admin pay range as well. How do you get out of the “glorified secretary/maid/copy maker” pay scale? Because if they base your salary off old positions or give you percentage raises, it would be hard to make up the difference!

AlliNYC (#1,725)

@sintaxis Honestly, get used to “paying your dues” for a while… but what I’ve learned after 4+ years of post-college experience is: find the right company. Find a growing company, one where you fit in well, earn the respect of your superiors, and once you have mastered the “administrative track” stuff (~6 months or so?), ask if you can help someone in the XYZ department… doing conferences, assisting the HR department, helping with a big sales project – whatever appeals to you.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@OllyOlly honestly, I didn’t. I had to fight to earn the same salary at my entry-level professional job as I made being a secretary (I’d worked my way up to a swank, union executive assistant gig). All that experience didn’t really translate to a higher rate of pay. Oh well. Love my job and I’ll deal.

Generally I will say I am VERY WARY of the idea that if you find the right company they will help you bust out of the admin rut. I worked 3 places that bragged about doing this. While they were all happy to heap non-admin work on me when necessary, they were all hostile to the idea of promoting me out of my positions. Then again, going above and beyond my meager job description was how I finally got the skills/experience to pad my resume. So just be realistic about that.

sintaxis (#2,363)

@MuffyStJohn @AlliNYC @oiseau

Hey! Hey! Guys! so this was just a week ago that I was asking y’all for advice and BOOM- pay raise for sintaxis. I was offered three different roles in the company, two with significant pay increases (to get me out of the admin track) but without much future growth and one where I stay put with my current boss and take on a risky role that may or may not lead to something even better. I talked to my boss about it and voiced my concerns about pay and whatnot but in the end I’m taking the risk of staying put now with expected greater rewards later. Still, he came back to me with an unexpected pay increase of 22.7% to keep me happy while I wait for things to develop!!

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@sintaxis WUT. THIS IS A MIRACLE. AND AWESOME. Congrats to you!

oiseau (#1,830)

@sintaxis Awesome! (wondering what the potential career path is, if you want to share!)

Megano! (#124)

Right? I was talking to a friend about this (she’s also looking for work), and she’s like, “I hear people complaining about their new hires all the time, and how they’re lazy and don’t do their work, and I’m like, ‘HELLO! I WILL DO THE WORK AND NOT COMPLAIN RIGHT HERE!’”

theotherginger (#1,304)

I think some people are entitled, and think they are too good for entry level jobs. This can’t be the majority. Companies find it too easy to use the ominous word “economy” as an excuse to not hire the people.

Nick (#1,548)

I replied that my interviews with young people showed that many had records of part-time jobs and excellent grades at selective schools that seemed to make them promising candidates. But executives countered that recent graduates had emerged from universities whose weakened requirements didn’t prepare them for the complex jobs that companies must now fill.

You can thank grade inflation for this.

Worker Parasite (#2,292)

It’s tough. I’m not too far removed from school myself, so I remember the pain of not having experience, but at the same time all of the recent grads I’ve hired in the past 2 years have either been complete disasters, or at best, people that required wayyyyy more handholding than someone with professional experience of any kind (not even related to the job I hire for). The people I’ve hired with 2+ years of experience even tangentally related to what I’m hiring them for have been much more successful. Small sample size I know, but it sucks having to teach new hires how to dress appropriately for work, or how to adhere to attendance standards, or that when I say something is due Friday at 5pm, I don’t want it Monday at 10am.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@Worker Parasite What is with the fashion faux pas at work? My boss has told me that one of the primary reasons I was her favorite candidate from the beginning was because I dressed appropriately for my interviews. Apparently she saw a lot of cleavage and flip-flops from other candidates. And I see a lot of wretchedly inappropriately dressed young people in the course of my work too (mini skirts and gold glitter have no place in a professional work environment, kids!)

Worker Parasite (#2,292)

@MuffyStJohn I don’t get it! My last hire is a few months older than me, and wore a suit to the interviews, but then was showing up for work in ripped jeans and Adidas t-shirts. Dress code is business casual, and I’m super flexible with my interpretation of that, but after several documented talks about what to wear to work I finally had to send him home to change one day. Amazes me how some people get through their days!

1) Everybody wants their new hires to magically have all the required skills, and nobody wants to train them! I wish more US companies something like the German tradition of apprenticeship, where employers offer formalized on-the-job training programs, often in conjunction with vocational schools, in exchange for a commitment to stay with a company for a given number of years.

2) I have met that entitled Millennial! Her name is Ashley and I trained her to be my replacement at a receptionist temp job. While I was showing her how to work the phones, she pulled out Twilight and started reading. She was asked not to return the next day. That was 3 years ago and I haven’t met another entitled Millennial since.

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