Hiring Trends for 2014′s Online Graduates

hiring trendsIt’s that time again, as career-related advisors and websites publish advice for job seekers who will be “on the market” in the New Year. Believe it or not, spring graduation dates are right around the corner. Summer and fall grads can (and should) be thinking about all of this, too.

Here’s my round up of the latest information from a wide range of career advisors, recruiting specialists, and business publications. Prepare to make your next career move a successful one, by becoming aware of these current trends and ways to use them to fine-tune your approach.

Increasing Impact of Social Media

While the need for a professional online presence, usually developed via social media, isn’t news, it’s interesting to see how integrated everything is becoming. The traditional job search process and documents are evolving to include digital components and uses. Consider making the most of both worlds in these areas:

  • Resumes: Alison Doyle, About.com’s job search expert, recommends adding a title or headline to your resume. This single-line should be “concise and catchy” and “highlight your value to a prospective employer.” Examples include: “Award Winning Editor Skilled in Web Design” and “Bilingual Nursing Graduate with Experience in Rural Health Care.”
  • Recruiting: What if hiring employers made initial contact with you? This is happening more often as recruiters search for qualified applicants via social networks. Jobvite’s 2013 annual survey found that 90% of companies use social media as part of their recruiting effort. Know what your digital footprint looks like, and take action to help create it through updated social profiles and interaction.
  • Online Profiles: Choose your words carefully. LinkedIn publishes an annual list of “overused profile buzzwords.” The 2013 collection includes responsible, strategic, creative, effective, and more. How can you describe your characteristics in more specific ways that showcase your unique accomplishments? Use this list to review your profiles and keep it handy for resume writing as well.

Shifting Demographics and Demand

There are a lot of variables that can affect what jobs will be available in the future, and what the workplace will be like once you get there. Take a closer look at a few trends anticipated in the coming year:

  • Workforce Changes: According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Workplace Forecast report [PDF], many companies will experience changes in employee demographics over the next several years as some Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) retire and others remain at work. Millennials (born between 1983 and 2000) will also enter the workplace in record numbers. Be prepared for a workplace culture developed around and by employees and managers representing multiple generations.
  • STEM Fields: Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates are needed to fill an increasing number of positions in related industries. CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson lists this as a trend to watch in 2014 “with more than one in four employers planning to create jobs in these areas over the next 12 months.” If you are thinking about going back to school, assess your interest and aptitude in STEM subjects, and research the companies that are currently hiring these graduates.
  • Changing Nature of Work: MonsterWorking.com reports that “working remotely and freelancing has become the norm.” Don’t limit your job search to only full-time, on-site positions. Explore opportunities for contract-based work and location options through sites like Indeed, Guru, and FlexJobs.
  • Changing Nature of Careers: Workplace expert, Dan Schawbel’s trends for 2014 include “the continuous job search.” While Schawbel notes that this is often due to a lack of job satisfaction, the need to ensure continued income through short-term contracts could also play a role. Set up automated job search agents, which notify you when positions matching your interests and qualifications are posted. This is just one way to stay informed about what employers are looking for in new applicants.

Making Connections and Communicating Value

As an online student, your job search may include not only marketing your professional experience, but also your decision to learn online. Here are a few suggestions for making sure your network is strong and your message is focused on what you have to offer:

  • Referrals: Having someone already working in a company refer you for an open position can be just the advantage you need to get hired. Hannah Morgan explains in a recent CareerSherpa post that this can save employers a lot of time and money usually spent on recruiting and advertising. For online graduates especially, tapping into your alumni network is essential. Where are prior graduates working and how can they help? MonsterWorking.com adds that as referrals become more valuable, you should keep in contact with your references so you’ll know when they are retiring.
  • Boomerang Hiring: TEKSystems is just one of many sources reporting a trend in hiring former employees. Were you laid off from a previous job, or perhaps completed a short-term project with a company you would like to work for again? “It might not be a bad idea to check in with old colleagues.” These people already know you and your skills set, so let them know you are available.
  • Skills Gap: CareerBuilder’s Matt Ferguson states that “high-skill, specialized occupations” have openings that employers have trouble filling. Express how your experience and education have prepared you for the work, both in your resume and social profiles, as well as in job interviews. Share why you chose your online program and how it helped prepare you through course work, internships, and other relevant activities.

Setting Realistic Expectations

It’s important to keep in mind that trends are, well, trends, and subject to change. Fortunately, a lot of groups conduct employment research and provide relevant advice. Being able to make good decisions about your job and career means knowing what to expect in your industry. Add these resources to your own research:

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH): Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the 2014-2015 edition of the OOH, an online reference that includes more than 500 detailed job profiles. Use this resource to find out more about the education and training requirements, salary and compensation, and hiring outlook for each occupation listed. You an also view fastest growing occupations and 10-year growth projections.
  • PayScale: Find out more about what you can expect in terms of wages or salary in your field, and in your location. PayScale conducts ongoing surveys that help them estimate salaries for a wide range of positions. You can also use the GigZig tool to explore what a career change or career advancement might mean in terms of salary and job title.
  • Professional Associations: Don’t underestimate the value of joining your field’s professional organization. Stay up-to-date with their ongoing coverage of hiring trends through publications and special events. You may not have to be a paying member to access helpful reports and articles online, and student rates for access to membership materials may also be available.

While it may seem like I’ve covered a lot of ground in terms of what to expect from a job search in the next year, this is really just the beginning. Reach out to your on-campus and online career center professionals for individual guidance as you move forward. They have many more resources, and connections with employers, to help you stay informed about the latest trends in your field of study and future career.

Join Melissa Venable on Twitter and Google+.

Source: Inside Online Learning Blog