Picture of post-it discussion

It started with comments and tweets from careers professionals in the UK and my attachment* to adhesive stationery. A huge thanks once again to the UC Berkeley Career Counselors who commented, annotated and discussed the difference across the Atlantic.   We’ve covered InternshipsStudent Involvement in service delivery and International Student Needs. Now on to Labour Market Resources.

Giant post-it #4: Labour Market Resources

Initial comment from Tahira Majothi:

Do they have ready resources that cover the country similar to Prospects or Target Jobs?

[Directories for degree-level jobs and ‘grad schemes’ in UK.  For US readers, ‘grad schemes’ are not exclusively for postgraduates, and often look like a salaried role at a major organisation which encompasses on-job training, often in leadership skills, sometimes with the opportunity to rotate around different areas of the organisation.]

Notes from UC Berkeley Career Counselors:

Management training programs at large companies, but not one place to identify these jobs:

Ecojobs.com, idealist.org, quintcareers.com (has ‘how tos’), indeed.com, monster.com (although this gets so many applicants that we don’t encourage its use so much), usajobs.gov (government jobs)

Fellowships? [In the UK this means high level academic appointments. Here it’s temporary developmental positions for post-grads, and increasingly, for recent graduates too in other fields]. Temporary opportunities, e.g. Americorps? [National community service program, awarding a stipend, and with options which help repay college loans.  Overseas equivalent is the Peacecorps.]

Labour Market Resources: overview

An 'Oops, not found' google search result for 'gradjobsUSA.com'
‘gradjobsUSA.com’ isn’t even a typosquatting website!

The role of UK national graduate job websites took some explaining – and shows a real difference transatlantically.

In digging a little deeper, it’s clear why there really isn’t any ‘graduatejobsUSA.com’…

  1. Firstly, the terminology. ‘Grad’ means ‘postgrad’ in the US, and ‘grad jobs’ sounds like jobs for postgraduate students.  Generally speaking, after four years of undergrad with increasing numbers of decisions about what to do, and 2+ internships, those in graduate school are pretty focused, well-connected and hard to attract to mass university hire campaigns.
  2. Secondly, the geography.  As previously mentioned, the USA is BIG and labour market mobility across the US is not as high as you’d think. As it’s cheaper to go to university (‘school’) in your home state, universities often serve a majority of home-state students, hence state focused sites rather than nationals.
  3. Thirdly, the technology.  The US equivalent of AGCAS and the AGR combined, NACE,  has over 500 US universities using their NACElink vacancy and event management system.  Recruiters can use this to post a job at multiple universities simultaneously. It serves the same niche that Prospects Net does in the UK, but the number of schools adopting it is much higher, as is the number of recruiters. As a result, the importance of the careers service vacancy board is higher here.
  4. Fourthly, the jobs. ‘Grad schemes‘ or ‘Graduate Development Programmes’ are offered by some big multinationals, but it’s not known as the typical route. Students here seem much more comfortable with the idea of moving up the occupational ladder job-by-job, or working for a while to help decide and prepare for further study. Employment ‘at will’ contracts (no notice period), or 2 week notice periods are very common – perhaps a factor in the majority of employers offering no more than a standard amount of professional development for recent graduates, expecting many staff to take a masters/professional training under their own steam at some point to progress higher.

Labour Market Resources: trends

It definitely feels that the onus here in the USA is on the individual student to drive their own career development as they cross the graduation finish line. Given that students here drive the shape of their degree – choosing opportunities and classes semester-by-semester – they definitely seem to have a higher level of self-efficacy than UK students.  Unlike in the UK, here I have only rarely been asked by a student  for a ‘list of companies’ or even  ‘recommended websites’ to look at – even though they’re told that is something career counseling can offer.

The majority aren’t looking for two years of development on a plate. Many already have a burgeoning network of professional contacts, having taken a couple of relevant internships and maybe a relevant class (a broader mix of theory and applied courses are on offer here). Here, a stone’s throw from the start-ups Silicon Valley and in the country which founded the American Dream, self-determination feels an important value to more students than in the UK.

Job security is certainly sought after, and there’s no doubt that the big multinational management schemes have significant appeal, but more students here are seeing an individualized approach that characterizes the employment offer at Gen-Y-friendly workplaces in Silicon Valley.  Recruiters at a recent meeting at UC Berkeley described a preference among students for “high touch, personalized  recruiting; individual conversations, personalized job offers, and a face-to-face relationship. That doesn’t fit with a national website.

*I’m going to try to sneak more puns in here.