Meaning Over Money; How Companies Can Add Value to Entry-Level Positions

With the economy beginning to turn around, entry-level job seekers are starting to shop around the job market instead of jumping at the first company who offers them a paycheck. Choosing a first job is a tough decision for anyone, but for recent college graduates, it’s their first leap into the real world.

A few months prior to graduation; my classes, email inbox and seemingly every conversation I had with my parents revolved around my job search. I hadn’t even ordered my cap and gown and already I was stressed about what I was going to do with my post-college existence. What do I want to do with my life? The question was so simple, yet so complicated. Along with the millions of other students in America who graduated alongside me, we all pined over the same question which was more difficult than any we would find on a final exam.

They call my generation “Generation Y”. We consist of over 76 million 20-something year olds, half of which move back home after acquiring a degree, like yours truly. Generation Y is like nothing our society has seen before. We are driven by technology, self fulfillment and an urge to be the best; all in a quest to achieve the American Dream.

So what do 21, 22 and sometimes even 23 year olds look for in a job? Well, when I graduated from college, I looked for 3 characteristics in my future employer; a stable company, a six figure salary (I had to settle for a little less) and a position that would make my 4 years of higher education worth it. I wanted a job with meaning; a job that when I drove home at the end of the day, I knew I spent the last 8 hours of my life doing something I loved.

Statistics have shown recent graduates are now looking for a job with meaning more than money. Although many look for both equally, a friend of mine surpassed multiple job offers to work for a non-profit organization in New Orleans for less than $300 a month. Although you may be squinting your eyes looking for another zero, it’s not there. This position may have forced my friend to sharpen her budgeting skills, but more importantly, it allowed her to help those in need and attain self fulfillment – which to her was more valuable than being able to buy fancy shoes and a new car.

College graduates are valuable commodities to any employer; they are hungry, smart and easy to mold. What happens when the freshest batch of recent grads doesn’t want to work in Corporate America, but instead, for $300 a month in New Orleans?

The best thing an employer can provide a candidate with is a vision. Your company may not be helping to feed children in poverty, but chances are, you are doing something of value. Show your applicants the worth of their potential employment. Make them aware of the impact they can have on your organization and what they will get out of their job aside from another paragraph on their resume. Get out from behind your job boards and corporate websites and start using unique tools such as videos, podcasts, blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc to share your culture, passion and what it means to work for your company.

Gone are the days of working until 2am and giving up a life outside of work. Instead, people are looking for a healthy work/life balance and are altering their job searches to do so. So when you snag that perfect recent grad, be flexible with their schedules. This is not to say you should let them come into work late every Monday morning, but if they have a dentist appointment, let them work from home if their position supports it. By complying with your employees needs, I promise you they will return the favor.

Although I earned a degree in a certain area, I was far from being able to picture myself professionally in 5 years. My company, JCSI Corporate Staffing, made a smart move by introducing me to all areas of the organization and exposing me to what I could achieve if I worked hard enough. Meaning. It meant something to me knowing I could grow within a company to get to where I wanted to be. It instilled in me a long-term goal and the motivation to stick it out even if times got tough.

The point of this post was to paint a picture of what really goes through the mind of college graduates when they begin their job search. The criteria have quickly changed from funds to fulfillment and are bound to transform again. The key is to illustrate the value each position possesses, rather than the materialistic outcome.

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Comment by Lisa Kaye on October 26, 2009 at 11:30am
Laura. Great post that's for your perspective. Would love to feature your post on our website, which is an online career site geared towards folks interested in working in the media and entertainment industry. Check us out at Thanks again, important perspective. Lisa
Comment by Laura Gargolinski on October 26, 2009 at 11:54am
Absolutely. Please visit my company JCSI's website, for future posts.


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