A few months ago, a colleague wrote to me asking if I knew of anyone who could edit a book she was writing. Immediately, I thought of my middle daughter, Sydney, who was getting ready to graduate from college at the time. As an English major, Syd didn’t really know what was next for her. What she did know is that she loved to write (and does it very well, says the proud papa) and was planning to go to Europe this July with her boyfriend.
So I asked her whether I should recommend her for the gig. She was nervous:
“I’ve never really edited a full book before, Dad.”
“Well, do you think you could do it?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“I think so too.”
She said, “OK, I’m willing to try, especially if I could do it part-time.”
Long story short, she got the gig, just finished editing the book, and with some money in the bank she is now getting ready to head off to London.
Sydney had unknowingly stumbled upon exactly what employers are looking for these days in prospective employees: people who can work part-time and who have skills. According to the most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), these are two things small business owners want when looking to make a new hire these days.
For starters, according to the Small Business Owner Report, here is the breakdown of the type of worker entrepreneurs are hiring:
- Part-time: 54%
- Full-time: 51%
- Freelance: 26%
As you can see, part-time is at the top.
In addition, the general preference amongst small business owners is to hire Gen X employees (47%), more than a quarter of the small business owners surveyed (26%) said that they prefer to hire Millennials. Additionally, it also turns out that, despite conventional wisdom, you don’t need to be a STEM major to get a job (science, technology, engineering, and math). You know the drumbeat of course – STEM majors are supposedly the most sought-after grads out there.
Except when they aren’t.
According to the SBOR, a knowledge of STEM was the least important hiring criteria (10th of 10 categories.) Only 3% considered education level to be the most important factor when evaluating job applicants. What is far more important actually are these three things:
- Skill level (49% said it was most important)
- Fitness with company culture (24%)
- Experience (24%)
Sydney is a perfect example of this. While she had little experience editing an entire book by herself, she did have the skills to do it. Being young and inexperienced actually worked in her favor; the author was able to get her for much less than it would have to hire a more experienced editor.
And that is what small business owners are looking for upon careful consideration of the SBOR. What they want are hard-working, trustworthy people whom they can afford, who can adapt and fit in, and who are coachable.
If recent grads have the right attitude and are flexible, that elusive post-graduation job can be theirs.
And with that I say, congratulations on graduating, good luck, and happy job-hunting!
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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