The Gap Between Student Education and Successful Employment

Want help with your hiring? It's easy. Enter your information below, and we'll quickly reach out to discuss your hiring needs.

canyon gapThe hope for every college graduate is that they will find employment.  Beyond that, they hope to find employment in their field of study in school.  Their hope continues to expand to finding a sustainable job, with a company where they can stay and enjoy a career.  These are students who are not going on the graduate school or some other type of additional education although even the graduate students will face similar obstacles  seeking employment down the road when they graduate.

The outlook the last few years has not been good and the results students gain have not been good.  Here is some of the early data from the annual NACE Student Survey.

On the improvement of employment:

More than one-quarter (25.5 percent) of the Class of 2012 that applied for a job has one in hand, according to results of NACE’s 2012 Student Survey. That is up slightly from last year at this time, when 24 percent of 2011 graduates who had applied for a job reported having accepted one.

The percentage increase of 1.5 percent is not encouraging.  As has been the case for years and in this economy  these low results have shown that the practices students have been using to gain a job has not been effective for three quarters of the graduates.

On receiving job offers:

Among 2012 graduates who applied for a job, only 44.2 percent received at least one job offer. In comparison, 41.4 percent of 2011 graduates who applied for jobs received an offer.

As in the increase above, the 2.8 percent increase is not very encouraging.  Again, it points out the ineffectiveness of the practices followed the students to find a job.

On the percentage of students who applied for a job and took the survey:
Slightly more than half of seniors taking part in the survey (52.1 percent) reported that they had applied for a job. That’s well below the activity reported for the Class of 2011—approximately 75 percent had applied for a job by the time of the survey—but consistent with results for the Class of 2007 through the Class of 2010, when the percent of the class applying for jobs hovered between 42 and 50 percent. This can be surmised as evidence that the graduates are lacking in any confidence about getting a job.

The  NACE Report information above is very telling.  With 22.9 percent less applying for a job indicates that they do not believe there is a job out there for them.  Many graduates lack belief they have an effective way to find a job, get noticed, get an interview, and get an offer and the job.

In many discussions with job seekers, these are the prevalent opinions that exist.  Considering the process the students are pursuing to find that job it becomes clear why they are not as successful, those many tried in spite of negative input and an alarming number apparently decided not to try.

The practices the students learn and follow fail 3 out of 4 times because the practice is not designed for success.  The practice we are talking about is, create a resume by any means, send a resume wherever you can and wait for a positive response that rarely occurs. This widespread practice was created over years of job applicants responding to employment ads and those advertising employers demanding resume submissions.  It is the primary if not only means of which employers where aware to seek people the wanted to hire.

Consider that there is a huge gap or even a chasm that exists.  On one side of the chasm is the effort of the students to gain an education in a field they chose and the belief that education will provide a solid foundation in a career for an employment lifetime.  The school is on the same side of the chasm working diligently to provide an education to the students to achieve the same objective, employment. Embedded in the minds of nearly all students is the expectation that their educational credentials and the assistance of the educational institution is what they need to land a career opportunity after graduation.

On the other side of the chasm are the skills and abilities of the students to conduct a successful job search that will provide the job they want in their chosen field.  Alongside the students is the school teaching the best skills and abilities, of which they are aware to the students with the intention that their students will be successful in finding the job they want.

Those are the two sides with the chasm in between.  The chasm is the result of the decades-old practice taught and used by almost everyone inside and outside of academia.  The practice is to create a resume, send a resume and wait for a positive response.

Sure, there have been a myriad of variations.  We now have LinkedIn, Facebook and all the other social media.  Video resumes and countless “tips” are promised to create success. “Googling”  Job Search Training gives 874,000,000 “hits”.  Surely, they can’t all be offering ineffective training, correct? Sadly, this is not the case. Our research and investigation revealed that practically everything offered is a variation, re-labeling or re-packaging of the “Get a resume-Send a resume-Hope for results” broken practices.

There are huge efforts to help the freshman choose the best education that matches them with their desired educational and professional path.  These efforts are very helpful.  At the end of their educational career however, they are still left with having to get across the vast chasm between their excellent educations and finding a job.  These are two separate and distinct processes.

What are the consequences of this gap or chasm that exists?  It is clear that many students are not able to find a job in a reasonable time-frame.  Many opt to go back to school for a graduate degree thinking that by the time they are through the right job will be available.  In addition, they feel their advanced degree will make them more attractive.  Their logic is not poor but the reality is discouragingly different.  The reality is they still are stuck with create a resume, send a resume and wait.

Others will take a marginal job that may be outside of their chosen career.  They simply are waiting until the job they want appears.

Another consequence is that there is a class of graduates before them still seeking work and one coming after them.  This adds to the competition for jobs.

School’s risk their reputation when they do not have a good record of placing students.  Many schools look at their on-campus recruiting and point to the success of it as success for the entire school.

Many schools are feeling the results of budget constraints.  The career centers have their resources limited or reduced.  Their personnel resources allocated to career centers or entities to aid graduates find work are also reduced.  Many institutions see a lack of results and determine it is an area for cost savings through staff reduction.  Maintaining or increasing the number of people teaching ineffective processes has no positive impact on the ultimate objective of students gaining employment while the broken system prevails.

We have reviewed hundreds of career center programs across America.  We have spoken to hundreds of directors of the career centers.  We discussed what they feel challenges them and most feel the same frustration.  Regardless of what they try, the results are not measurably better because the practices and processes are spun into a form of the failing, create a resume, send a resume and wait for a response process.

The same career assistance professionals have expressed they would like to see something effective for their students and school.  They have shared with us that the majority of students lack enthusiastic confidence that what they get from the career centers is going to prepare them to land a job.  What both want is to be able to close or bridge that gap or chasm that exists between their education and their ability to find a sustainable job in their chosen field.

The chasm between the student and school working hard for the students’ education and an effective process  they can apply to effectively find the job in their chosen field can be closed or bridged now.

The answer is not a software package, a new website, creative SEO techniques, new technology, an applied theory or the well-intentioned “X” number of tips that everyone must know to get a job.

What is the best answer?  It is a skill-based training system providing practical instruction and education of how to proactively find a job in the field desired.  It trains individuals with solid, time-tested principles and fundamentals that allow them to take charge of their job search. It must be designed and delivered so that the graduate sees both its obvious effectiveness and their ability to apply the system.

Why does it work?  It is forged in the crucible of fifty years of hands-on, day to day personal interactions with employers and job seekers forging fundamental principles that consistently bring the two together.  It has succeeded through five recessions, countless industries and many different positions.  The proof has been in the success of both the employer and the job seeker.

Until recently, it was taught on an informal basis to hundreds upon hundreds of individuals at all employment levels.  Their success also provides confirmation of its effectiveness. It eliminates the aged and failing practices with a precise and personalized proven process.

America’s educational institutions have earned the reputation of being a cornerstone of our global success and leadership.  We know that many will now see that this “gap” is undermining student confidence in both gaining education and looking to their educators for actionable and effective advice in how to take their respected education into the American workforce and become beacons of success shining upon on schools, colleges and universities.

Read more in Starting a Career

Doug Beabout's professional career spans three decades of success and innovation in career management, recruiting, personnel and professional training. His career accomplishments include building four highly successful consulting businesses and co-creating hundreds of others worldwide.