POSITIONS WANTED

April 22, 2012


Statistics sited in this document were taken from “National Association of Colleges and Employers”, Bethlehem, Pa. Survey of 160 Major Employers across the Country.

Across our country right now are millions of high school seniors anticipating graduation within a few weeks.  Many of those students have been accepted to attend colleges and universities, both near and far, with goals of pursuing their passion and finding that coveted “dream job”.  There are also a great number that really don’t know what they want to do but realize they have about two years to “declare” a major.  Too many times they do what daddy or mommy want them to do without taking a good hard look at what’s selling.  What occupations would I enjoy for a lifetime AND what occupations satisfy need for the basics; i.e. food, shelter, clothing, gas in the car, enough money for a date on Saturday night, etc., if graduate school is not in the picture four or five years down the road.  The statistics below may give the graduating high school senior insights as to where we are in this nation relative to employment and where we might be in the very near future.

AVERAGE NUMBER OF APPLICANTS PER JOB:

  • 2009-2010            40.4
  • 2010-2011            21.1
  • 2011-2012            32.6

Scary right?  As a college or university graduate, you will be competing with many individuals FOR THE SAME JOB.     Also, no longer is your competition “local” only.   People seeking employment have online sources to search for positions AND, they are willing to move in order to get the best job in their specific field.    My town is very fortunate to have VW as an employer.  Over 2500 people work at VW with 800 additional individuals being sought at this time.  I think it is very unfortunate that VW  is having to go “national” in its search for technical people.  We simply do not have candidates that meet their needs.  This is the country we live in right now and I suspect conditions will not get much better.

HIRING PROJECTIONS:

The recessionary period we have just experienced, and some say we are still in, has lead employers to defer hiring, thus creating the average number of job applicant per position as given above.  This hiring “freeze” has abated somewhat but competition is still extremely great.  Let’s take a look at employee hiring vs. year:

                YEAR         YEARLY CHANGE

  • Spring 2007         19.2 %  gain
  • Spring 2008         8%  gain
  • Spring 2009         21.6%  decline
  • Spring 2010         5.3%  gain
  • Spring 2011         19.3% gain
  • Spring 2012         10.2%  gain         

Hiring is definitely on the rebound and the greatest gains are within very specific fields of endeavor.  Let’s take a look at spring 2012 to see what professions are in demand.  Please keep in mind that 160 companies were interviewed to find out what disciplines represented the greatest need.

PROFESSON    % of EMPLOYER RESPONDENTS HIRING               

ENGINNEERING               69

BUSINESS                     63

ACCOUNTING               53

COMPUTER SCIENCES    49

ECONOMICS                22

PHYSICAL SCIENCES      19

COMMUNICATIONS        16

SOCIAL SCIENCES         16

HUMANITIES               13

The 160 companies interviewed also indicated they prefer prospective employees to have work experience within their specific field of study.  Co-ops, interns, volunteer efforts may just give you the edge when competition is the greatest.  It certainly won’t hurt.  Also, having a great and credible reference (or references) is a definite benefit.  

I will now like to give you my “short list” of desirable attributes relative to securing a position in the highly competitive job market.  This list is really intended for that entering university freshman and possibly gives them something to think about along the way.  You eventually WILL graduate.  You WILL eventually seek gainful employment.  Let’s take a look:

  • You MUST know how to draft a well written document, put words together to make a sentence, paragraph or page that makes sense and is readable.  Good punctuation, good “wordsmithing”, logical sentence structure and basic flow of ideas will get you a long way.  You would not believe what I have seen from university graduates.  Some simply don’t know how to write (which consequently makes me believe they don’t know how to think!).
  • The need to be bi-lingual or even multi-lingual is extremely desirable in today’s culture.  Learn Spanish or French or German or Italian.   Oh by the way, we have English and we have Southern—I’m from Tennessee, and I know the difference.   Know how to speak English- the King’s English -but know at least one other language. 
  • If you are a person of color you may have to “act white” when dealing with customers, peers, managers and teachers.  Don’t “axe” them a question, don’t use “ghetto” language and think you will get ahead any time soon.  It just does not work that way.  You will eventually be working in a professional atmosphere so be professional.  Employers won’t say anything but you will be evaluated based upon how you speak and how you answer questions.   I have told our three children that their first manager may just be an old guy like me, so behave. 
  • Read continuously from the moment you enter college and continue that action throughout your professional career.  Don’t ever think that watching hours of TV will do anything but waste your precious time.  Stay abreast of developments within your profession and discuss those developments with your peers and your manager.  Cultivate the habit of reading about subjects outside your chosen field.  Some day and in some way, that information will come back to benefit efforts within your profession.  Never fails!  Managers needing employees know those individuals who are well-read and articulate subject matter in a concise manner. 
  • Network—ALWAYS, prior to the interview and after the interview.
  • Dress in a manner that is appropriate for the interview and the job.  DON’T WEAR YOUR LUCKY BALL CAP TO THE INTERVIEW!  Pull up your pants.  Leave your mini-skirt at home.  The interviewer is looking for a worker, not a date.  Don’t even think about smoking or “dipping” during an interview or on the job.  (You would not believe what I’ve seen over the past few years.  What are these kids thinking? I even interviewed a guy who was smoking “weed” during the very short interview. )
  • Know the company you are interviewing.  Do your homework before you sit down with the HR guy.  What do they do?  Where are they located?  How many employees?  Where are their offices?  National or international?  You get the picture. You must know this information before you go in.
  • Don’t go into the interview unless you are sober. (Please see previous discussion.  Again, what are these kids thinking? )
  • YOUR COURSEWORK MUST REFLECT YOUR ABILITIES FOR THE POSITION YOU ARE INTERVIEWING .  You won’t be able to “wing-it here”.   Enough said.

Good luck!   I have worked with some of the very finest young people on the planet in my years as a mechanical engineer.  They are smart with great work ethic and really resourceful.  (I love the resourceful.)  Trust me on this one, you can do extremely well during the interview and on the job with the proper attitude and a willingness to listen, apply your considerable talents, and work.  Always remember—If you want to leave you’re footprints on the sands of time, you must wear work shoes.  Been there, done that, got the “T” shirt.

 

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