Take the Pledge — Give A Kid A Break!
As a recruiter, I will review over 5,000 resumes this year and talk with over 1,000 candidates. In most instances, I am talking with adults – individuals who have been in the workforce for more than 5 years and who have some work experience. Recently, however, I have been recruiting for a host of entry-level positions and that has been an eye-opening experience for me not only as a recruiter, but also as a parent of teenagers, who have yet to enter the workforce.
I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned.
- A significant number of families were so severely impacted by the economic downturn of 2008 that they were either not able to help their children pay for college or their children had to interrupt their schooling to raise funds to continue. A lot of these students did and will not return to school. According to Harvard University’s 2011 Pathways to Prosperity project, only 56% of students enrolled in a four-year institution graduate in 6 years. Yikes! As a result, their earning power is significantly compromised causing them to have to fight their way out of an economic hole that will only increase in depth, perplexity, and hopelessness every year. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, DC, quantified this by analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They learned that Americans with four-year college degrees made 98% more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s. This makes me sad.
- The number of online degree programs is increasing exponentially. In fact, the market is so large and so many people are choosing online options, the venerable U. S. News & World Report now ranks accredited programs. However, buyers beware! Not all accredited programs are good, a degree from an unaccredited institution is a foolish investment, and a credential purchased through a diploma mill that promises a degree for “life experience” is a sham. Every day I see resumes puffed up with coursework from online institutions with no academic standing. This is even more maddening as I know there are a lot of earnest students who are spending hard-earned cash from menial jobs thinking they are getting a credible degree. Stop!
- I really admire recent graduates who go out and get “internships” in order to “bridge” their academic/work lives. Generally, this is a solid strategy especially if you are being mentored or learning a new skill. However, increasingly, cash-strapped companies are using this as an opportunity to lure entry-level talent for the purpose of knocking out a body of work. They then release these workers at the end of the “semester.” Worse, these kids are told their experience will increase their marketability to make them feel better about working for free. I am a small business too, so I can understand the attractiveness of this strategy, however, when a company embraces the use of unpaid interns on an ongoing basis without offering any learning, this is illegal. An internship must satisfy a variety of criteria set by the Department of Labor in order to qualify as unpaid. I wish someone would take this cause on with a vengeance.
- A lot of these graduates/applicants appear to be “free-wheeling” in the jobs space without any credible sponsors – parents, mentors, career counselors, etc. A recent Wonkblog article by Matt O’Brien in The Washington Post speaks to this from the reverse or privileged side of the equation. According to census research by Martha Stinson and Christopher Wignall, 12.5% of sons of dads in the top 10% of the income spectrum have worked for their dad’s companies. I don’t begrudge these kids taking advantage of their dad’s connections, but what I do wonder is who is helping all of the other graduates/applicants? If the best and the brightest need “a leg up” in this economy, what does that say about those with no such support?
Somebody needs to do something about ALL of this.
Somebody needs to do something about the affordability of an undergraduate degree. Someone needs to help families and kids identify financial options that will help students stay in school.
Somebody needs to help them make good choices in their careers about internships, first jobs, and careers.
Somebody needs to shutter diploma mills.
Somebody needs to pay interns a decent wage for work that provides value.
Somebody needs to help these kids market themselves into jobs.
Somebody needs to provide a helping hand that will give these kids a shot at the American dream.
In the meantime while all of the somebodies are working these issues, I’m going to do my part.
I have a job to fill. It’s a basic job for a recruiting coordinator. No one is going to get rich in this role, but it will give someone a start in a credible career, not an unpaid internship. For a decent wage, I am looking for a go-getter with a great personality and extraordinary attention to detail. I need someone who is going to support me and my team by conducing candidate research, posting roles, setting appointments, ordering office supplies, coordinating vendors, and the like. The coordinator will work out of a postage-stamp of an office in Old Town, Alexandria, with vintage Salvation Army furniture. It’s a great entry-level role from which I will help someone build a career in recruiting or help him or her find his or her next job. This is a small effort, but it could be something BIG in the life of someone.
What’s one thing you could do today to be a somebody to someone?