It’s no secret that 2009 has not been the easiest of years for most college students and young professionals; however, over the past year there have certainly been bright spots. Today, in honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share some of the positive trends I’ve noticed this year.
More resources to help students and recent grads. While we’ve lost some bloggers and websites this year, we’ve also welcomed many helpful new resources for young professionals. I’m particularly grateful for the resources I find myself recommending over and over again, such as LinkedIn’s Grad Guide and Twitter lists (check out my list of career/workplace experts to follow).
University career centers serving more alumni. Resources for more experienced job seekers are growing as well — and some of that growth is coming from college career centers, which traditionally only served students. Almost every career services professional I spoke with this year mentioned the influx of alumni calling for their help. One career director at an Ivy League university told me that, for the first time ever, they’ve added a dedicated staff person to service alumni.
I think this is a great thing: as people face more career changes and job hunts, they need more resources to turn to. While I do suspect that career centers will begin charging their alums (currently the vast majority serve alumni for free), I believe this trend is here to stay. Perhaps in the future university career services will become more of a lifelong resource rather than a one-time stopover.
Students getting smarter about the pros and cons of social media. As the campus spokesperson for LinkedIn, I have a unique insight into this topic. Student participation on LinkedIn, the professional social network, is growing exponentially, and many students are learning for the first time that social networking can help them professionally. For many students, this is carrying over into the way they use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social sites. Many of these sites are still primarily social, but I’ve noticed more awareness among students that recruiters are Googling them, which means they need to be smart about what they’re putting on the web. I hope that in 2010 we see more tools that help all professionals better separate the personal from the professional online.
Ditto for employers. At the same time, recruiters are paying far more attention to social sites and trying to figure out how to use them to find entry-level candidates. Over the past year, I’ve seen companies making more strategic decisions about which social media sites to use and what policies to implement when it comes to connecting with students, vetting students and retaining young employees. We certainly have a long way to go, but 2009 should go down in the books as the first year social media became part of HR manuals and recruiting guidelines.
Wider definitions of “job” and “career.” I recently wrote a blog post that generated a lot of discussion. It was about the way careers are now more pyramid-shaped than ladder-shaped. In 2009, I’ve observed so many young people creating unique career paths through various combinations of part-time work, virtual work, freelancing, entrepreneurship, paid interning, volunteer-to-temp-to-perm and beyond. The economy is in a huge state of flux right now and the people who get creative are the ones who will get ahead.
Finally, I am so grateful to all of you who read my blog, share your comments and keep me inspired every day. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your ongoing support!