Are you a graduate having no luck with your job search?

Or maybe you have landed a job and want to make the best impact on your position?

Beth Hendler-Grunt, Founder, and CEO of Next Great Step was the featured guest on Career Talk, a call-in career advice program hosted by Dr. Dawn Graham, to answer these questions and discuss the best career advice for recent grads. Dr. Graham is the Director of Career Management for the Executive MBA Program at Wharton and her weekly program is featured on SiriusXM Business Radio. The focus of the interview of was “Getting Grads Ready for Work.”

Dr. Dawn Graham, host of Career Talk, on SiriusXM Business Radio with guest Beth Hendler-Grunt

Here are highlights from the interview:

What are the trends you see in the market?

When I speak with employers, there remains a disconnect between employers and students expectations. Employers share that many candidates have difficulty articulating their value…even if they have the right skills. Employers also want to see students differentiate themselves. When they come from similar schools with similar grades, it is difficult to see why one candidate is better.

What is the secret to competing to get the job?

We tell grads that the best way to differentiate yourself is to show that you can solve a problem for the employer. Put yourself in their shoes and help them to achieve their goals. That could be contributing to improving efficiencies, helping them make money or save money. Think about how they measure success and how you can help them. Understand what is important to them and be specific on how you can help them.

We hear a lot about underemployment for recent grads. Is this a reality?

It is a reality. The New York Federal Reserve Bank in a recent report claims “between 30 and 40 percent of college graduates are underemployed”.If you are underemployed or in a job where you are frustrated about lack of opportunity, we give grads this advice…Use this opportunity to increase your skill set to become marketable. Experience and learn as much as you can. Also, network with the colleagues around you and build relationships. This will launch you into your next role.

You mention “networking” but what does that mean to students? Talk about how they can use their network to get to the next level.

Beth on Networking…

This is a challenge for many students because they do not know how to network and they are afraid to reach out to people they have never met regarding a job opportunity. There is a fear of rejection and not knowing what to say. We advise to break it down this way…

  1. Before you pick up the phone or message someone, you need to take a self-inventory of your core skills – the 3 things that you are the most competent at and you have examples to back it up.
  2. Then, target specific people who have the job you want. These people can tell you what it is like being there. Alumni are the best people to reach out to because they are the most receptive.
  3. Ask good questions about what they do and how they measure success.
  4. Then ask if they can connect you with other peers or other job opportunities.

Why don’t students go to Career Services?

Beth on Career Services…

There are a few reasons why students don’t go to career services. The main reason is that they are afraid. They are afraid that someone will ask them “what do you want to do?” and they do not have the answer. They think their peers have it figured out and they don’t want to be perceived as “lost” in their career direction so they avoid going. They also avoid career services because they think their family or friends will link them to a job when they graduate. They don’t realize that you need more than a family contact to get a job.

What is the one idea you want students, grads, and parents to know about the search process?

The biggest regret of most grads and parents is their lack of understanding of how early to start the process. During every year of college, students should be working on a piece of the search process. Such as updating the resume, going to a carer fair or meeting with professors to learn about opportunities. My advice is “the more you do earlier to work on your career search, the better off you will be.”

Beth Hendler-Grunt also answered other key questions such as:

  • When should college students start looking for a job or internship?

  • How important are grades vs. experience in applying for jobs?

  • How important is where you went to school to get a job?

  • What is the difference between a college career counselor and what Next Great Step offers?

To learn the answers to these questions and more, listen here for the replay.