Cindy Krischer Goodman’s Balancing Act: Many new college graduates seek work-life balance, flexibility as they look for jobs

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Here come the 2014 college graduates, flooding the highly competitive job market and bringing their workplace expectations.

Stephanie Savage, a University of Florida graduate, is one of the 11 percent nationwide who has successfully landed a full-time job. Yet, she notices an interesting trend with some of her friends who still are searching: “They’re picky.”

“The idea of not being in a job they love is stressful for them,” says Christian Garcia, executive director of the Toppel Career Center at the University of Miami. Mr. Garcia said he has had students shy away from jobs in which they’ve heard the boss is difficult, the hours or commute long, or the job description “boring.”

“They want to feel each opportunity is THE opportunity. Some can afford to be picky, but there are a lot of students who can’t. I bring them a reality check.”

Ms. Savage, 21, who will work as a preschool teacher, sees the same thought process in her peers. “They realize the job market is horrible but they still say, ‘I don’t know if I want to work for someone like that’ or ‘I don’t like the job requirements.’ ”

The pickiness is perplexing considering this is the sixth consecutive graduating class to enter the labor market during a period of profound weakness. However, the Class of 2014 is uniquely optimistic and expects to find positions in their chosen fields, according to an employment survey by consulting firm Accenture. These graduates also are determined to find work-​life balance in their jobs — or come up with ways to obtain it.

In fact, for the past few years, work-​life balance has been the No. 1 career goal among students in the global surveys by Universum, which offers research and services worldwide to help employers attract talent. More than leadership opportunities, security or prestige, these college graduates seek balance. They want their jobs to reflect who they want to be and the lifestyle they want to live, one that might include training for a 5K or giving back to the community.

Across the board, new graduates are fielding more job opportunities than last year or even last fall, college career counselors said. Some are taking jobs as independent contractors, trying to turn internships into paid positions, crowdsourcing for their startups and signing on to project work. Many are asking boldly in job interviews about work-​life balance and favoring employers who paint an attractive, values-driven picture, Universum’s research shows.

This creates potential for small businesses to snap up talented graduates, many with strong skills in technology and teamwork, says Mason Gates, director of business development at CSO Research. “Instead of fitting employees in boxes, smaller companies are opening themselves up to be flexible or virtual. They might get the best young employees if they are open-minded.”


Cindy Krischer Goodman can be reached at balancegal@gmail.com


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