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Building a Resilient Career Path: Strategies for College Students Facing an Uncertain Job Market

Charlie Fletcher

Building a Resilient Career Path: Strategies for College Students Facing an Uncertain Job Market

Job market conditions are ever-evolving depending on advancements and setbacks that permeate all industries. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in tech, business, healthcare, art, or anything in between, it’s imperative to be aware of shifts in demand that may happen after your college graduation. But it is possible to set up a resilient career path. Learn how to shape your ideal professional journey to match the changes that will inevitably crop up along the way.

Why Career Resilience is So Important Right Now

According to underemployment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, Current Population Survey, and O*NET, recent college grads are more likely to be underemployed than the entirety of college graduates aged 22 to 65. This means that most young professionals right out of college are accepting jobs for which they are overqualified or that don’t require a four-year degree.

This is most often born out of necessity. Underemployment, according to Investopedia, happens when job seekers are forced to settle for a job that doesn’t let them use their complete skill set. These jobs are often low-paying, as well. There are many reasons why this can happen, including:

  • Recessions;
  • Industry-specific financial crises;
  • Company-specific financial crises;
  • Automation of certain jobs;
  • Structural issues in organizations;
  • Mismatches in job openings and needed skill level.

Although discrimination based on age isn’t allowed during the hiring process, employers may stereotype recent college grads as unprepared for the professional world. The generational differences between upper management in most companies and recent college graduates cannot be overlooked. While a lack of real-world experience can be a legitimate reason to not hire someone younger, there are times when employers overlook valuable skills that recent grads may have.

College students have the difficult task of choosing a career path to stick to for at least four years. When faced with impending discrimination, financial uncertainty, and tech advancements that change industry demand upon graduation, this can be daunting. Navigating adulthood is difficult enough without having to worry about finding a job that appreciates your education and furthers your career. Luckily, there are ways to safeguard your future by building a resilient career path.

Enhance Flexibility in Thinking and Behavior

Before anything else, you should work on adapting the way you think about your future. A cookie-cutter roadmap to success sounds great, but it doesn’t often work that way. While you can be hopeful for your dream job, you should still prepare for some bumps in the road. That way, you’ll be ready for anything.

For example, you could plan to pursue IT education. Keeping an open mind during the process can help you stay flexible and pivot to a different focus if needed. This pivot should happen to facilitate a more reliable career for yourself in the future, and it can only happen if you remain adaptable.

Identify Future Career Trends and Opportunities

With the ability to pivot in mind, you should keep an eye on career trends. It’s impossible to predict exact demand, but you can get an idea of how certain industries are growing and changing. Look for articles about up-and-coming jobs in the industry you’re interested in — or even new industries that are popping up.

For instance, the renewable energy sector is undergoing rapid growth currently. To get ahead of the curve, you can identify career possibilities in renewable energy that are in their infancy. Some examples include wind turbine technicians, solar photovoltaic installers, and green building architects. Further, think of the key roles this budding sector will need to flourish such as:

  • Data scientists;
  • Electrical engineers;
  • Software engineers;
  • Chemical engineers.

By critically thinking about how tech and industry advancements will affect jobs, you can plan your education to fit future demand. Regardless of what is predicted to be popular in the future, make sure you are staying true to your interests. If you’re interested in tech, apply that to growing industries like renewable energy to make sure you have not only a resilient career but a rewarding one.

Create Strong Networks

Since employers may not trust the professionalism and qualifications of recent college graduates, it’s wise to work on establishing your place in the industry early. Set yourself apart from the pack of other new grads by having a preexisting network in your chosen field. This will future-proof your education and career planning by giving you contacts in several areas.

You can reach out to them if one sector is particularly booming, and you could potentially have an “in” from that connection. Plus, building strong, professional networks helps you work on both your technical and soft skills. Learning how to collaborate and communicate efficiently will prove to potential employers that you have what it takes, even though you just graduated.

Develop In-Demand Skills

Aside from learning how to navigate professional communication, you should also widen your skill set. Having a specification in your major will help you remain marketable to that particular niche, but you should have skills in a wide variety of areas just in case that niche falls through or you need to pivot. Broadening your education can enhance your employability as well as prepare you for continued education later in your career.

Try adding on a minor or some classes in areas that are predicted to be particularly in demand. Even if they don’t particularly go with your current focus, you will still have that foot in the door if the occasion arises and you need to switch lanes. Further, you will be more marketable when these skills, like tech skills, are integrated into positions that may not have previously required them.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Above all, make sure your career path aligns with your interests and passions. Sprinkle in networking and cross-learning in other fields to broaden your horizons and expand your chances of landing a great job post-graduation. It is possible, so keep your head high and mind open throughout the process.

SEE ALSO: Business Degrees and Contracts: Exploring Your Career Options

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