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Rising Above Job Market Uncertainty

Proven Career Guide for College Graduates

Written by HRCap, Inc.

April 6, 2023

What Do the Current Job Market Trends Look Like?

Given the possible economic recession, companies have laid off a total of 3.2 million employees in just the first two months of 2023. The Class of 2023 is faced with an uncertain job market as they approach graduation.

With the onset of the pandemic, students have spent nearly half or more of their education in a virtual classroom and are now entering a job market that may not be ideal for new college hires. In fact, 20% of organizations surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) are planning for a recession, and about 6% expect to cut back on hiring new college graduates from the Class of 2023. Unsure of getting hired after graduation, 97% of surveyed college seniors have considered alternative options such as graduate school, part-time work, or taking a job outside their major.

However, there are still employers that plan to hire 14.7% more new college graduates from the Class of 2023 than they did from the Class of 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report also shows that the job market added 517,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate reached 3.5%, which is the lowest it has been in over 50 years.

With the contrasting sentiments of a looming economic recession, the addition of newly created jobs with the rise of technology, and the decrease in unemployment, HRCap recommends that college graduates still actively work on growing their personal value proposition to best prepare for the uncertain job market post-graduation.

How College Graduates Can Best Prepare

Though the economy and job market are unpredictable, graduating college students must still effectively prepare themselves for the job market prior to graduating.

1. Continuously Upskill

With the job market evolving and technology advancing, students should continuously upskill to stay competitive and relevant. Taking on challenges and constantly learning will promote a growth mindset that can adapt to different situations. These are some ways to upskill:

  • Take relevant coursework and team projects

  • Step up for leadership roles within student organizations

  • Develop technical skills online if not provided at the current institution

  • Master advanced proficiency in Microsoft and Google Suites

  • Learn languages and build empathy for different cultures

2. Proactively Prepare for the Job Process

Many students make the mistake of waiting until the last semester or graduation to apply for jobs. Instead, students should prepare in advance as early as even Freshman and Sophomore years to build experiences desirable and valuable to prospective employers. Many employers also extend full-time positions after the successful completion of internships, so it is essential to be proactive and gain the most exposure early. Some ways to proactively prepare for the job process include:

  • Making use of school career resources

  • Actively attend job fairs and networking events

  • Consistently practice for interviews (behavioral, situational, case, technical, coding)

  • Shadow and gain internship experience

3. Effectively Demonstrating Value to Employers

College students must do the essential research on companies and their respective industries to gain the knowledge needed to differentiate their candidacies. When meeting with potential employers, college students need to demonstrate their genuine interest and strong relevance by doing the following:

  • Thoroughly research the company’s history, capabilities, and news

  • Stay ahead of the field and industry trends

  • Look up the interviewer’s background before the scheduled interview (LinkedIn, corporate website, news)

  • Tailor the resume based on the specific job position

  • Customize the cover letter for each employer

  • Follow and actively attend events hosted by desired employers (online, offline)

  • Send follow-up thank you letters to employers after interviews or meetings

4. Strategically Build a Unique Brand

A strong professional brand can help student candidates stand out in a crowded job market. Students should consider doing the following to catch the eye of recruiters:

  • Create and polish LinkedIn profile with a strong elevator pitch summary and keywords

  • Clean up digital footprint on social media to remain professional

  • Pursue and publish passion projects (blog, social media content, videos, etc)

  • Build new student organizations and professional groups

  • Create an online portfolio highlighting key achievements

  • Read, travel, and network to widen perspectives and have a unique personal story

Pursuing Alternate Career Plans

Although it would be ideal to have a job offer lined up prior to graduating, students can still pursue alternate career plans. Having a backup plan is critical, and students must continue to grow and prepare for the future:

  • Embrace temp jobs and part-time gigs to build technical skills, while carefully looking for desired field of interest

  • Start with shadow or intern opportunities (even if non-paid) in field of interest to gain relevant experiences

  • Expand passion projects full-time as an entrepreneur

  • Take on volunteer work and partner with non-profit organizations to scale involvement

  • Pursue graduate education to gain knowledge and build a network in the field of interest


The best way to be competitive in the current market is to have strong self-awareness, high learning agility, and ongoing relevance (to the field, to the company, and to the ideal job).

Students need to actively develop a unique brand, carefully translate their relevant experiences, and strategically transfer all skills gained. Through proactive preparation and ongoing self-development, college students can certainly have a competitive edge in any job market.

HRCap Career Guide for College Students Infographic
HRCap Career Guide for College Students Infographic

Source: HRCap, WSJ, iCMS, NACE, BLS


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