NEW GRADS: CAN YOU BEAT THE CLASSIC 'CATCH-22?'

Survey Says Hiring Managers Rate Experience as Top Hiring Criterion for New Workers

MENLO PARK, CA -- Landing your first job after college may depend more on what you did between classes rather than in school, suggests a recent survey. Nearly half (47 percent) of executives polled rated professional experience as the most important quality in hiring new graduates - more than the type of degree earned (18 percent) and grade point average (17 percent).

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm. The poll includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Survey respondents were asked, "Which one of the following do you consider most important when hiring a recent college graduate?" Their answers: 

Experience in the profession, such as
internships or temporary work.....................
47%
Type of degree earned......................................... 18%
Grade point average/academic performance......... 17%
University attended.............................................. 7%
Involvement in campus/community
organizations...................................................
7%
Personality, attitude and motivation...................... 2%
Don't know/no answer........................................ 2%
  100%

"Many graduates face a 'Catch-22' situation in their search for their first full-time position - they can't get a job without experience, but they can't get experience without having a job," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Working as an intern or temporary allows students to build their skills and business network, thereby enhancing their marketability to prospective employers."

Domeyer offers the following tips for emphasizing on-the-job experience in your resume:

  • What's in it for them? - Don't rely simply on the names of previous employers to impress the interviewer. Instead describe your accomplishments, the skills you applied and how these abilities make you the best match for the open position. 
     
  • Make the connection - Many college students have job experience that on the surface may not seem to apply to positions they may be seeking after graduation. The key is to focus on transferable skills. If you've worked in food service or retail, and seek a corporate position, for example, emphasize any experience supervising others, managing inventory or handling customer service issues. 
     
  • Close the gap - If your resume lacks hands-on job skills, don't panic. The summer months post-graduation are an excellent time to build your abilities through temporary work or internships. In doing so, you'll keep busy during your job search, open the door to networking opportunities and perhaps land a full-time position.

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