Job Search Advice for New College Grads

Experience can be the most important factor for new college graduates trying to land their first real job. 


Image Credit: Sara Haj-Hassan (

Employers have a hefty list of criteria against which they assess new college graduates for employment, and work experience that is relevant to the job is key among them, according to a study published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Nearly three-quarters of the employers taking part in NACE’s Job Outlook 2012 survey said they prefer to hire job candidates who have pertinent experience; just 4 percent said experience didn’t factor into their decision when hiring new college graduates.

“For college students, relevant experience is typically gained through an internship,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

In fact, the internship can be the “foot in the door” to a job with many employers: In a separate NACE study regarding internships, responding organizations reported that 42 percent of their 2011 college hires came from their own internship programs.

“Employers are looking for evidence that the candidate can do the job; the internship offers that evidence,” says Mackes.

Employers’ hiring preferences relative to experience:

Candidate with relevant work experience                                     73.7%

Any type of work experience (relevance doesn’t matter)              17.5%

Experience not a factor                                                                  4.1%

Other                                                                                              4.6%

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