Where Are the Entry Level Jobs?

You spent four years focused in college earning that degree with a clear pathway in sight – walking off campus straight into your dream job. Why is it then that so many new graduates are living at home with their parents and are working odd jobs just to make a semblance of a living? Yes, the anemic economy is a contributing factor. However, just as important, if not more critical, is the lack of knowledge of where the jobs are and how to find them.  Candidates armed with the right information and with access to help in crafting a job search strategy are having greater success.  In fact, entry-level hiring has actually been one of the fastest growing sectors of the job market.

The challenge is that the market for entry-level professional positions is highly inefficient, as the new grad job seeker and hiring companies have difficulty finding each other. This is due, in part, to structural changes in when and how new grads look for jobs.  At the same time, while the availability of entry-level jobs is improving, these jobs are much more difficult for new grads to identify as many entry-level positions are not advertised.

Historically, large employers have been the driving force behind college recruiting, as they possess the resources to maintain large college recruiting efforts, hire in large numbers and provide centralized training.  However, with a challenging economic environment, many of these programs have been reduced or eliminated.  Despite recent economic improvement, larger companies have been cautious in hiring, focused on productivity and maximizing earnings.

Gradstaff, a new college graduate staffing service, has increasingly seen hiring at the entry-level being driven by small and medium-sized companies; companies with 50 to 1,000 employees, who may hire from one to 50 or more new grads per year. They cover a myriad of industries and fill a wide variety of positions.  Most of these industries and open positions are totally unknown to new college grads.  Examples of high paying positions in strong demand include claims trainee, health care member advocate, associate credit analyst, social media analyst, property accountant, etc.

A combination of factors contributes to strength in new grad hiring among small and medium-sized companies.  First, many mature, profitable companies are dealing with significant demographic trends.  Industries including insurance, health care, commercial real estate, logistics and many others have older age profiles and face the loss of baby-boomers to retirement in the next 10 years. These companies must hire more at the entry-level now in order to prepare for the loss of key performers. Second, almost all companies are seeking people with strong technology skills regardless of the position. New grads typically have the technology skills that companies are seeking.

While small and medium companies are hiring, what they aren’t doing is finding these grads on campus.  Simply put, they just don’t hire enough to justify the investment in a dedicated college recruiting effort.  Furthermore, many don’t have the brand image of a Google or Accenture, and thus, feel they do not get sufficient attention when recruiting on campus or attending a career fair.  As a result, they rely on referrals, both from employees and partners (vendors, clients, etc.), as well as job postings and social media to identify candidates.

Once home after graduation, job seekers are on their own, and because they may have delayed looking for a job while on campus, they lack important job search skills and strategies.  Many may also lack the knowledge and self-awareness to know where their majors or core skills can be applied in the workplace.  As a result, job searches tend to rely heavily on making electronic applications via the internet, increasingly using mobile devices.  Commonly, this approach is unsuccessful due to lack of focus and the difficulty in differentiating an entry-level resume.

Many experts feel that the key to finding a job is personal networking, which is an underdeveloped skill among recent grads. Due to the growth in electronic forms of communication, job seekers often underestimate the importance of the personal touch.  Potential sources include college alumni, former coaches and professors, family friends, so forth.

Services like Gradstaff, address this problem by acting as the intermediary between small and medium-sized employers and college grad job seekers. They offer recruiting networks encompassing more than 900 colleges across the U.S. and offer an outsourced college recruiting service to client companies.

For job seekers, such services provides skills assessment and career exploration services to help identify potential industries and positions that would fit the candidate. Acting as a matchmaker, this places candidates in professional positions with a focus on long-term retention.  While this service does not guarantee placement for all candidates, it tries to give them useful feedback and coaching that will be helpful in their job search.

The entry-level job market for college grads is changing.  All interested parties – job seekers, hiring companies, and colleges – must adapt in order to make the entry-level job market more efficient.  The good news is that demographic changes and the need for strong technology skills should lead to improved prospects for new college grads.