Attention Students: Work on your Soft Skills

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Juggling two jobs, going to college and helping in the family business, is a challenge for Jackson Stonier, in his day-to-day life. Stonier, a sophomore political science major at Southern, has seen first-hand how the economy is affecting jobs and his own prospects involving a government career.

“In the last two or three years we’ve seen a decline in the number of jobs we get for manufacturing,” Stonier said. “So, our revenue at the end of the year, at the end of every quarter, has been like, slowly going down and we have to bid for more projects to make the same quota.”

Stonier is the marketing assistant in his family’s business PennGlobe, a lighting manufacturer based in North Branford, owned since the1970s. But in order to keep up with tuition costs, Stonier also works part-time at a garden center to help supplement financial-aid. Stonier says his goal is to get a government job after graduating, but knows it isn’t easy.

“I know that there’s slim pickings as far as government jobs and law things go, but I think I have a good chance at getting the job that I want to do,” Stonier said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 nearly 242,000 graduates with bachelor’s degrees worked at minimum wage or below with an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent.

Fernando Betancourt, senior political science major at Southern, is planning on graduating this semester. He’s doubtful about starting a political science career with his current skill set. He says he thinks he needs more than what he’s learned at Southern: he needs another degree.

“Especially, for political science majors coming right out of college with a bachelor’s degree, it isn’t really enough,” Betancourt said. “It’s competitive and I believe you at least need a Ph.D or master’s to get a job in the field.”

A higher level of education may increase the odds of employment and earnings, according to a 2012 survey from the BLS. In the survey the unemployment rate for an individual with a master’s degree was 3.5 percent and those with doctoral degrees saw a rate of 2.5 percent. In the same report, the median weekly earnings for those holding a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree was $1,066, $1,300, and $1,624 respectively.

  But a report published by Adecco, a staffing and recruitment agency with over 400 offices across the nation, suggests that unemployment among students may be caused by students. The survey was taken in March 2013. Five hundred managers were surveyed and 66 percent believed that new college graduates are unprepared for the workforce.

Some of their reasons include dressing inappropriately for an interview, the inability to answer work related questions, and spelling errors throughout a resume.

“You don’t want the employer to have any reason to not keep your resume or application, because what you want from the resume, is to get the interview,” said Patricia Whelan, a career counselor of the Academic and Career Advising Center at Southern.

The Academic and Career Advising Center is located in the Wintergreen building. Students can make an appointment for one-on-one advising on developing their resume and interview skills.

Based on feedback from employers hiring Southern students, Whelan says a typo on one’s resume can immediately disqualify an applicant from being hired. She says interpersonal skills like having a firm handshake and maintaining eye contact is crucial for an employer.

While going over common mistakes found on student resumes, Whelan said “This is the first impression an employer gets of who you are, and you want to make a good impression.”