Did you know that around 50% of all recent college graduates do not have a job? Sure, some of those choose to take a gap year but, for the majority, the problem is simply that there is no work out there. And Larry Polhill has also found that many of those who do work may have the skills to be the director of investors at the APFC or the president at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they actually work far beneath their skill set. This is because they have bills to pay and student loans to pay back. So is the situation really so dire that there actually is no more point going to college at all?
Larry Polhill on the Reality of College
College graduates today all have 100% attendance and far above average GPAs. They believe that this is precisely what will get them the job they are capable of doing. However, what they have never learned, is how to look for work! At any given moment, there are millions of positions open, and they go unfilled. Considering some 50% of college graduates don’t work, this seems almost ridiculous. Why would businesses have lots of open positions but nobody to fill them with?
Polhill believes it is because college graduates don’t know how to write resumes, they don’t know how to write cover letters that demonstrate that they are the right person for the job, and they don’t know how to get through an interview. And that is if they even know how to find an open position in the first place.
Imagine a college graduate who spent a gap year traveling through Asia. They believe that, because they have had cultural experiences, learned a different language, and saw how business was conducted elsewhere, they are a fantastic employment candidate. Yet, an employer will be more likely to look at a graduate who spent a couple of months working at Sears, and feel that they are a far better candidate. The reason for this is because the second graduate has learned about the important things: team work, customer service, marketing, punctuality. They can demonstrate not just that they know the world as a whole, but rather that they know the real world and, most importantly, the business world.
So what does this mean for graduates? Mainly, it means that you have to understand that no job is too lowly for you. You may have a fantastic degree, you don’t – yet – have any experience. That is not to say that you won’t learn anything during a gap year, or that you sell yourself short by having one. But if you have had that gap year and you want to use it to sell yourself, make sure you tell them about the jobs you did to sustain yourself, such as cleaning a restaurant, rather than the fantastic experience you had diving in Thailand and seeing environmental destruction with your own eyes.