Half of university students surveyed in a recent report admit that they feel unprepared for entering the job market, while 39 percent of employers feel recent graduates aren’t prepared for the workforce. With these statistics, many are looking at how well universities are preparing students for the road ahead of them after graduating.
Graduates have an uphill battle with stiff competition, which is only further intensified by not being fully prepared for their desired career. Plus, employers are having an increasingly difficult time finding that ideal candidate to join their team due to the lack of additional skills and credentials on resumes other than just a degree. Universities are looking to make changes to their programs to help students meet employer expectations, but are they enough? In this post we look at ways colleges and universities can better prepare students for jobs in marketing.
Meeting Employer Expectations
Employers feel that graduates should be able to hit the ground running when hired; yet, the general complaint among employers is that graduates simply aren’t good enough and don’t meet their expectations. Universities need to adapt to prepare students to meet those expectations.
Correct Career Path– It’s a sad reality that many graduates spend years in school only to discover once they’ve landed a job they don’t fit. Long before graduating, students need to look at the career they are choosing. One way students can determine if they are entering the right field is by interviewing potential employers about the position and expectations. Universities need to provide these resources to students to help them determine the career that suits them prior to graduating.
Hands-On Experience– Students spend too much time being lectured and not enough time actually experiencing what they’ve been taught. A large complaint among employers is that recent graduates only have book skills, no hands-on or real life skills. Hand-on training should be incorporated into the curriculum to better prepare students to meet employer expectations and job demands.
Internships– To gain further experience, students need to have a couple internships under their belt upon graduating. 91 percent of employers expect students to have completed one to two internships prior to graduating in order to land an entry-level position. Students who have some form of work experience on their resume prior to graduating have a significant advantage over graduates who don’t.
Interview Process– Universities need to work with students to help them pass interviews as 42 percent of employers feel graduates are simply unprepared, and 26 percent of employers say they are turned off by a candidate’s attitude. Students need more advanced training on how to prepare for an interview, including etiquette, appearance, and soft skills.
Stop Outdated Training
Often, universities are teaching students outdated material and advice. The marketing sector is always changing, especially as technology continues to grow. Students need to be taught what’s happening right now with marketing and advertising, not what was happening 20 years ago in order to be diverse and be able to adapt to the ever changing marketing sector.
Current Time Training– Every year, marketing trends change, causing change to the skills, techniques, and marketing strategies needed. Students need to be prepared for the changes that are occurring right now and the predicted changes for the future in order to adapt to the industry once they’ve graduated. With the ability to adapt, they will prevent their marketing skills from becoming obsolete, along with their career.
Utilizing and Measuring Marketing Strategies– Recent graduates often have a difficult time entering a new marketing department; therefore, they need know how to handle this change in order to effectively do their job, including the ability to utilize the correct marketing strategies they’ve learned, and then how to correctly monitor those strategies to see how well they’re performing. Many students are taught how to implement strategies, but few know how to actually monitor their performance to make the adjustments needed for a successful campaign. Training needs to include all aspects of a campaign– before, during, and after.
Stand Out from the Crowd
A third of all companies are looking for candidates who stand out from the crowd by brining an open mind, creativity, and leadership skills to the table. No employer wants to bring on another cookie-cutter graduate. Yes, students need to be taught all of the common marketing tools, but they also need to be taught how to add that extra flare to stand out from their competition.
Think Outside of the Box– Employers are looking for a candidate who is able to think outside of the box to solve problems and bring new ideas to the table. They want a candidate who doesn’t always go with the flow and avoids the general concepts and theories they’ve been taught. Employers want to hire someone who takes what they’ve learned in school and transforms it into the next great idea.
Strategic Planning– Students need to think strategically. They can’t generalize everything. They need to be able to break down a project individually, then develop the tools and techniques that will work best.
Market on a Budget– If a graduate really wants to impress an employer, they need to know how to successfully complete a project, while saving money. Companies are always looking for ways to decrease expenses and not all businesses have the financial means to run large marketing campaigns. By developing a marketing strategy that will run effectively for far less than what’s estimated, the graduate will stand out.
A huge problem with graduates lies with their communications skills, which is left out of many university curriculums. Communications skills should be a requirement for any degree as a candidate is only as effective as their ability to communicate. It doesn’t matter how great of an idea a graduate may have if no one understand what they were trying to communicate.
Written Communication– Written communication skills are critical in any job, but especially important with marketing. Proper spelling and grammar go a long way when it comes to portraying an idea and with overall communication.
Presentation Skills– Presentation skills are another essential form of communication students must learn. A bad presentation will kill a great idea. Students need to be able to implement the presentation and communication skills they’ve learned in order to thrive in the marketing sector.
Many universities have jumped onboard with the necessary changes that must be made in order for graduates to find a successful job. A full service education needs to be adapted to help students succeed during and after they’ve attended college. Students can’t just receive their degree and be thrown to the wolves to try to figure out how to land the job they just spent years working towards a degree.
- “Qualified in their Own Minds” InsideHigherEd.com
- “8 Ways College Could Better Prepare Students for the Job Search” USNews.com
- “What Employers Want from College Grads” FoxBusiness.com
- “What It Takes to Make New College Graduates Employable” NYTimes.com
- “Education vs. Work Experience” WorldWideLearn.com