This Is Not Your Parents’ Job Market

Lesley Mitler, Master Career Coach and Founder of Priority Candidates, a bespoke career coaching firm for college students and young professionals, is a valued PREMINENTE strategic partner. Lesley’s decades of knowledge and experience as an executive search consultant have informed the successful counseling work she has done with our clients in internship and career navigation. Join us as we speak with Lesley over the coming months about the most pressing issues facing young people entering the job market today.

In This is Not Your Parents’ Job Market, the first in an exclusive On Point with Preminente series focused on career advice for young professionals, Lesley helps us to make sense of the seismic changes in recruiting and hiring over the last 15-20 years. As college students prepare to enter the professional workforce, everyone who has “been around the block” a few times feels the need to impart their wisdom and guidance to the newly minted job-seeker. But, is this advice still relevant in the more digital, more casual, and frankly, more competitive marketplace?


How does the job market for young professionals today differ from what it was 15+ years ago?

Today’s job market is practically unrecognizable from the job market of 15 years ago. The internet has upended the job market, just like the common app did to college admissions. People from across the globe have access to all jobs posted online.

  • Applicant tracking systems eliminate approximately 70% of resumes that don’t align with the criteria in the job description, which makes the resume a much more important document
  • For some companies, some type of assessment is required just to have your application reviewed in order to make sure you are a fit for their culture.
  • Entry level jobs are not really entry level. Many of those jobs require previous work or internship experience of up to 2 years.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in hiring in the time you’ve been a career coach?

So much has changed since the time of telephone screenings, in-person interviews, and hand-written thank you notes. Today’s job seekers face a far different road to employment, primarily due to the influence of technology. Online job boards have replaced job ads; companies use one-way video interview platforms as a first screen in the interview process; platforms like Zoom have replaced many in-person interviews; communication primarily happens via email or text; networking is made more powerful by online tools like LinkedIn. College career centers host far fewer company recruiters on campus, and business attire has gone from formal to business casual or casual.

Are there myths about the job search that you’d like to clear up for young professionals?

Myth #1: Senior level connections can help you get hired.

With the centralization of hiring in Human Resources and the focus on DEI, many organizations will not encourage or accept referrals from those in senior level positions. In speaking with a senior member of a global financial organization, I was told that HR keeps graduate and intern recruiting at a distance from management. The best referral sources are younger members of the organization who both know where the openings may exist and can share their experience interviewing with the firm.

Myth #2: Jobs posted online and on company websites really exist.

Not all jobs found on job boards or a company website are necessarily real. Some companies list jobs simply for compliance purposes, even though they fully expect to fill the position internally. Other companies are posting jobs to build a pipeline for future openings.

Myth #3: Education and academics are more important than work experience and skills.

While maintaining strong grades and taking relevant courses is important, it is necessary to have a balance of strong academic credentials with work experience that has built relevant soft and hard skills that can be transferred to the workplace. As companies move toward “skills-based hiring” they are demonstrating a preference for skills over a degree requirement.

How can parents be helpful in this process?

Parents need to provide emotional support and help their young adults build confidence. Don’t try to be their job coach – it will just cause frustration and a feeling of being criticized. Do encourage early engagement in the internship process as today’s employers are looking for hard and soft skills and real-world work experiences.

What is one piece of advice you would give to recent graduates or young professionals entering the job market today?

Don’t just apply to jobs that interest you. Apply to jobs that match your qualifications and align with your resume. Submitting applications to right-fit jobs should lead to more interview opportunities, and this will better inform your career options.

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