Dissecting Frogs and a Life Skill Gap That We Can’t Afford

FrogThere’s a lot of talk these days about skill gaps – a need for software programmers, engineers, etc. but not enough trained to fill the jobs US employers have open. Less is said about another skill gap – job search skills – the skill it takes for a software programmer to find the right employer, present themselves well and land the job in which they will thrive.

In a study of job seekers in two states, we’ve found that job seekers rate their job search readiness at a C-/D+. This is disturbing. In the average American’s working years, we’ll spend the bulk of our waking hours working in our jobs. But to land those jobs, we spend less time learning job search than we spend learning our smart phones.

I’ve been asking why and how this could be. How could we be so undereducated and unprepared to affect our career outcomes – the number one source of our income and financial well-being over the course of our lives. Ask any recent high school or college grad you know, for example, and the odds are you’ll hear them say – “No, I never really learned much about landing a job.”

Certainly since evolution of public education in the 1800s job search has become vastly more complicated.

Are our schools giving enough support and focus on what their career counselors are teaching – a life skill on par with personal finance?

So where do we learn job search? Where did you learn it? Chances are that you didn’t learn it well. For example, you may have landed your first job or and about half of your jobs, through someone you know. You may have essentially fallen into the job. After all, about half of all jobs are filled through networking. The chances are also great that you have not practiced job search even if you’ve learned it at some point. Americans change jobs, on average, every 3.5 years, which gives us little opportunity to stay sharp.

In the high school biology classes many states mandate, many of us learned how to dissect a frog, which was not only cool, but now part of the great movement in STEM. Perhaps a few weeks of learning the science of job search and dissecting its various parts would be a worthwhile addition for all of our students planning to look for a job?

For a limited time, job seekers can visit us at http://www.nextjob.com/scholarships/recent-grads/ for free access to our jobseekers toolkit where they can create their own job search plan.