College Grads Are Optimistic — Career Tips to Keep You Confident!

Monster Jobs reports that students graduating in 2019 are feeling good about their job prospects. We explore this optimism against the backdrop of some sobering realities, and we offer a few resources to help you back that optimism up with a real plan for success.

Recent college graduates are feeling pretty rosy about the job market. And considering what it costs to go to college, let’s hope this optimism is grounded in reality. Job search giant Monster Jobs just released the results of a survey featuring recent college graduates. The job site commissioned Dynata to consult a sample of 350 18-26 year olds living in the U.S. and expecting to graduate in 2019. Respondents ran the gamut from associate degree and technical certificate students to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral candidates. The survey findings reveal a graduating cohort flowing with positive vibes.

Class of 2019…we salute your optimism! Not only that, but we want to make sure this optimism is backed by some real plans and some realistic expectations.

That’s why we reached out to Monster Career Expert, Vicki Salemi for some real insight into the current job market. Vicki offers an important dose of reality to graduates entering the field with high expectations. And of course, we’ll make sure you have access to all the tips and resources you’ll need to seize the opportunity ahead. We want to be sure your admirable optimism is supported by a sound strategy.

The Findings

According to Monster, 59% of surveyed graduates said they expect to find a job in under two months. More than a quarter of those predicted landing this job in less than one month. Women are feeling somewhat more optimistic then men about their prospects, with 33% anticipating hire in less than a month, as compared to 23% of men. Younger respondents also tended to exhibit more optimism, with 41% of 18 to 20 year olds expressing confidence in finding a job in less than a month.

There is a hint of evidence that respondents are aware of the challenges ahead. Respondents did admit to stress over factors such as the interview process. 55% of respondents experienced anxiety over the “job assessment” part of the process, in which the candidate is evaluated for fitness in the hiring role. Also with respect to interview prep, men edged out women on the subject of stress over proper interview attire, with 57% of men expressing fashion anxiety, versus 46% of women.

The Reality

Not that we wish to add to your anxiety, but it’s possible that the optimism of recent graduates doesn’t entirely mesh with the realities facing new entrants to the job market. Those who expressed confidence that they would land a job in short order may not be wrong, but it is critical that graduates take this first step carefully.

To the point, Monster Career Expert Vicki Salemi says that “Confidence is great to see, but expectations should be kept in check as it relates to timing. Opportunities are available throughout the country, but when the hiring team’s schedule is available and approvals for job offers don’t have any delays, the best-case timing is six to eight weeks. Now, factor in interviewing multiple candidates and situational delays, one to two months may feel deflating if that’s your expectation.”

“It’s important to keep your nose to the grindstone and continue searching, applying and interviewing while keeping the best fit top of mind. You’re interviewing the employer as much as they’re interviewing you. Ultimately, you want an employer to meet your needs as it ranges from an opportunity for growth, salary, and title, as well as company culture, camaraderie, chemistry, work-life balance, commute and more!”

Outside research supports this advice. A recent study by the Strada Institution for the Future of Work found that more than 40% of college graduates take jobs out of college that don’t require a degree. More troubling than this finding, however, the Strada Institute reveals that college grads who fall into roles not requiring a college degree may find it difficult to climb into the next tier of employment. A decade later, three-quarters of graduates who took jobs that didn’t require degrees are likely not only to be on the same tier of employment, but will also likely earn around $10,000 less a year than counterparts who are using their degrees for employment.

Graduates searching for employment must be aware of the sustained disadvantages that can come with underemployment. These facts don’t undermine the findings produced by Monster, but they do cast them in an important light. Indeed, individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree will still out-earn non degree-holding workers over the lifetime.

But the decisions you make about your employment directly following graduation could have long-term ramifications for your ability to advance in your career or improve your earning potential. So before you rush into a job decision, make sure you check out our tips for making the most of your college degree.

The Resources

  Preparing to Land a Job

If you’re feeling good about your chances of landing a job, then you probably have a lot of nice things to say about yourself on your résumé, in your cover letter, and during your interview. That’s a great start. But there are also some tried and true conventions that you should be aware of before you begin shooting off applications and emails. Get your résumé up to snuff. Create a cover letter that captures attention, as well as your best features. Get ready for your interview with tips on everything from what you should say to what you should wear.

  Turning Your Degree into a Job

As per our warning above, unemployment is not the only challenge facing recent graduates. The challenge of underemployment is also quite real, and can have perhaps even longer and farther reaching effects than temporary unemployment. Don’t rush to find just any job. Bide your time and find the right job.

Monster Career Expert Vicki Salemi advises “This is a marathon, not a sprint, and you must be prepared for some delays or obstacles. The key for graduates succeeding in their first official job search involves consistency and persistency. Some leads may not pan out, but other ones will emerge. Stay focused and keep your eye on the prize!”

This underscores the importance of exercising patience, finding a job in your field, and channeling your degree into a job warranting your education. Start by looking for your degree on the list below and click through to learn about job prospects, salary range, and relevant graduate programs where you can even further advance your career prospects.

  Finding the Right Job

So you’ve prepared for the job search and application process and you have a strong sense of the kind of career path that matches up with your degree. But how can you be sure that you’re pursuing the right job with the right organization?

Monster Career Expert Vicki Salemi advises “Focus less on how long it takes you to secure a job, and more on what you’re looking for in your prospective employer. This may mean you make a list and prioritize what’s most important for you.”

“For new grads, it may be less about salary and more about location if they’re looking to relocate. For others, it’s more about opportunity and less about benefits, while others focus on culture and camaraderie over job title. Prioritize what you’re looking for, so you can stay on track.”

So that you can better prioritize what you’re looking for, we’ve asked and answered some common questions, and we’ve compiled a few more resources to help you in your search.

Read on for answers to these frequently asked questions:

And for an even more comprehensive look at job prospects in your field, visit our Create a Career job portal.

  Financial Adulting

Naturally, surviving in a post-graduate world is about more than just getting a good job. You’ll also have to learn how to manage your money and, for no small number of graduates, repay student loans. As long as you’re feeling optimistic about your job prospects, take a closer look at some of the financial responsibilities and challenges that await you. Don’t worry, though. We’re not just here to stress you out about your loan. We’ve got practical advice on repayment strategies, general money management tips, and even ways to lower your student loan debt over time.

Click here for advice on Loan Refinancing and other adulting tips.

We’ll close with one more excellent bit of advice from Monster Career Expert Vicki Salemi. Wherever you are in your job search, Salemi advises “stay busy — and by that I don’t mean busy for the sake of being busy, but stay engaged in society. So yes, while looking for a job is a top priority, don’t be afraid to volunteer in your community, join a book club, join an intramural sports team, or start a side hustle. These activities can primarily be for fun, but they can also be a great way to develop new skills and network with new people who can potentially open doors for you for a new job, too!”

Ok. Now that we’ve hit you with some cold hard facts, we want to wish you a warm, sunny summer. If you are a recent graduate, you’ve earned our congratulations and, more importantly, at least a little time off.

You’ve worked hard to get to this point. The job search, your student loan debt, and a future of gainful employment all wait ahead. Before you dive headlong into the real world, kick back and enjoy your achievement.

And because we believe that all happy occasions should be celebrated with a mixtape, Happy Graduation…We Made You a Mixtape!