The preconceived idea before entering the job market is to expect a brutal battlefield, with heavy competition from other opportunistic undergraduates. Everyone seems to be chasing a dream job that entitles them to wear a suit and have a business card to boost their own self-worth; a reward for spending the last three to four years studying hard at university. Especially when social media gives us the ability to broadcast our successes to our peers, we are more determined than ever to appear successful.
Our motivation to validate ourselves is not assisted with unemployment increasing and the job market being more competitive than previous years. There is also the latest federal budget implementing an additional 6% interest rate on HECS-support, with university fees proposed to go up 20%. Full time employment after graduation is becoming a necessity if we are ever hoping to pay off all the leftover debt.
The job market seems to be based on the fear of failure and judgement, even if this judgement comes from within. It seems the only way to survive is to achieve a full time career by the end of our studies. Unfortunately this isn’t as achievable as we hoped.
GradStats has reported that in 2013 full time job prospects for undergraduates in Australia were the second lowest statistic since 1990. Compared to 2012, there had been a 5% decrease in undergraduates finding full time employment within four months of graduation. It was concluded that the global economic downturn of 2009 negatively impacted employment prospects for graduates and has continued to cause downturn effects, suggesting that employers are being cautious in their hiring plans.
It seems the opportunities for graduates are statistically dim. However, as Albert Einstein once said, ‘In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity’. The way graduates go about searching for jobs must change to adjust to the rapidly shifting, technologically advanced, economy-crushing times that we are caught up in.
With more graduate candidates and less job prospects available, creativity is essential to stand out from the crowd. University degrees tend to focus more on educating students on theoretical material and lack in practices that guide students toward employment in the 21st century. Critical thinking is something that should be implemented into all areas of study. Graduates must be innovative in practicing strategies that are striking, immediate and relevant to job openings.
Ethan, 22, recently graduated from Victoria University after completing a Bachelor of Business. He has struggled to find a decent job since his graduation in May this year. ‘I think that universities should teach you better ways to get a job, especially when the job market is so competitive’, he said. ‘I mostly search online or research companies I like, but the chances are already slim because a lot of the jobs advertised go to people in-house, or the company have already filled the position but failed to take down the ad’.
Using online job sites to find employment is one method to utilise when looking for a job, but this method is incredibly limited due to the high exposure of job openings to other applicants. There are plenty of job openings to be found online today, but most job descriptions demand applicants have precise expertise and experience in very obscure skills. It relates to the statistics reported by GradStats, claiming that employers are being incredibly cautious in the applicants they hire due to the difficult economy.
If employers are being particular about who they hire, it limits the applicants to the very few who possess the superhero traits they look for in their employees. For graduates to be given a chance they must get creative in their method of applying by networking, interning or carefully wording their resume. It is lessons like these that should be taught in lecture halls. Students need to learn about the brutality of the job market before they graduate. They must know exactly what to expect at the end of their degrees. Students need enough warning that they can graduate with the set of skills and qualities they need to gain employment. In today’s economy, it takes more than a piece of paper.
Written by Glenn Corva
Photographer: Lola Alberts