American graduates facing jobs scramble

2008

For American college graduates going out into the world of work this summer, the good news is that more eight out of 10 expect they will find a job within six months.

The bad news is that half also believe there will not be enough jobs to go round and four out of 10 gloomily predict there are fewer vacancies than last year, meaning that landing that dream job is going to be a real battle.

The survey by credit card company Capital One has revealed a deeply pessimistic view of the current jobs' market among new graduates, even though most believe it will come good for them eventually.

Just four out of 10 reported already having a job waiting for them upon graduation, it added.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the current climate, more than half of the new graduates polled said they planned to begin looking for jobs and start their careers right away, while just under a third said they planned instead to go on to grad school.

A strong benefits package was the key attraction for such graduates when it came to ranking employers, with two thirds looking for benefits such as healthcare, pension and childcare.

Starting salary ranked a close second, rated top by 64 per cent, with job location coming in at number three, with 60 per cent saying it was it important.

Graduates also said they wanted to be rewarded or compensated (for example, through matching donations) for their volunteer and philanthropic activities.

"Benefits and financial rewards have always been an important factor for job seekers. Our associates and new recruits have also told us that they want an intellectually challenging environment and really value work-life balance," said Matt Schuyler, chief human resources officer of Capital One.

Meanwhile, a British poll of up-and-coming managers has put paid to the myth that Generation Y workers – or those aged 35 and under – are self-absorbed, disloyal and impatient.

The study by the UK's Chartered Management Institute and the Ordnance Survey found instead that young managers were focused on long-term skills development to boost their career options.

Far from the stereotypical view of Generation Y as self-indulgent, today's younger managers were driven by ethics and a sense of purpose, it argued.

Just 13 per cent claimed they "would quit their job tomorrow" if they won the lottery.

Nine out of 10 said they would "want to work for an organisation that does something I believe in" and more than half "would only work for organisations with strong values".

Debunking the myth that Generation Y lacked commitment, the report found that nearly two thirds of those polled had been in their current jobs for three years or more and only four per cent strongly agreed with the statement that "there's no point being excessively loyal to an organisation".

Almost two-fifths also worked in the evenings if necessary, while more than a third worked at weekends and a fifth used "travel time" for working.

The report also questioned the perception that Generation Y was less committed to career planning.

Asked why they joined their current employer, three quarters focused on the long-term career opportunities available.

Almost two-thirds claimed to have a personal development plan in place and a similar proportion suggested they "know what they need to achieve their ambitions".

Jo Causon, CMI director, marketing and corporate affairs, said: "Generation Y has been dismissed as self-centred, yet the evidence shows that this is not the case.

"Overall there is a strong desire to develop at work and enjoy their job, with inability to progress a strong negative for them.

"Yet, at the same time, busy individuals working long hours can quickly become demotivated and leave. In an era where skills are at a premium, organisations need to be aware of this and act before it becomes reality," she added.

Nevertheless, a sizeable percentage of UK Generation Y workers have also said they would quit their job if an all-out ban on personal use of workplace technology were imposed.

The poll of 1,000 office workers by telecommunications company Telindus found that, among that age group, nearly eight out of 10 said they logged on to social networking sites, two thirds downloaded music and more than half watched YouTube videos during office hours – all things that could slow down corporate networks as well as have a deep impact on workers' productivity.

Mark Hutchinson, managing director of Telindus, said: "Considering that one in five office workers admit to downloading TV programs at work, the pressure of personal Internet usage on the corporation network is phenomenal compared to what it was five years ago."

But, with nearly four out of 10 indicating they would consider leaving their employer if a workplace ban of the internet were instituted, office managers might want to consider other options, Hutchinson added.

"An outright ban on personal internet usage is clearly not the right approach to tackle a sluggish corporate network," he said.

"However, the challenge is to achieve the right balance between allowing employees personal internet time without jeopardising the bandwidth required for business applications," he added.

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