Jody Small is an Emmy Award-winning writer-producer who films stories about students and educators at community colleges and universities around the country.
For college students who graduated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, searching for a job had more than its fair share of challenges. Many students missed out on a valuable year of internships, work experience and networking. And research shows that 2020 college graduates are less likely to be in the labor force or employed than their 2019 predecessors.
But there is good news on the horizon; the hiring landscape for graduates is improving. Victoria Nauta, Director of Career Services at the College of the Arts at Montclair State University in New Jersey says, “Although many 2020 graduates had a difficult time finding a full-time position, in 2021 the demand for full-time employees is high and that’s great news for students.”
So how can instructors help their students make the most out of this uptick in employment? Victoria Nauta highlights six ways to help students land a job:
1. Encourage students to work on their written and verbal communication skills.
Good communication is consistently named as a top soft skill sought after by employers. Since faculty see students on a weekly basis, they are the best suited to provide invaluable feedback on any areas that may need improvement.
2. Share networking opportunities and connections.
Faculty often have first-hand knowledge on hiring events, research opportunities, internships and even specific job openings. Not to mention personal contacts with executives or alumni currently working in a students’ particular field of study. Help students break into their profession by sharing these opportunities and facilitating introductions.
3. Promote your institution’s Career Services Office.
Career services can guide students on how to network in a digital world, where to find employment opportunities and how to prepare for their first job. And all services—including resume and cover letter writing, internship and job search assistance, personal branding and networking—are offered for FREE!
4. Provide written recommendations.
Endorsements from instructors can carry a lot of weight with potential employers, and with the support of Career Services, recommendation letters can help your student successfully land their dream job. But don’t forget about social outlets as well. A short, less formal recommendation on a students’ LinkedIn profile can be just the boost they need when applying for jobs online.
5. Help set realistic expectations.
Too many students expect their degree will instantly translate into a high-level job and salary. Instructors can help students understand how long it can take to find a full-time position and emphasize the importance of hard work at entry-level positions in order to get promoted.
6. Be persistent and flexible.
Advise students to apply for numerous positions and keep an open mind when it comes to potential job opportunities—including remote work.
“Hiring is happening, and students just need to remain positive,” says Nauta. As instructors, we can help students land a job through encouragement, helping them make connections, promoting practice and improvement of their communication skills, facilitating networking opportunities and referring them to their campus career center.
To learn how students feel about their education and its contribution to their career readiness, check out our 2021 Graduate Employability Report infographic.