Fifty years ago, a bachelor’s degree was “the hallmark of an educated, readily employable American,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. A college diploma was THE key to being competitive in the professional marketplace. However, with inflation and unemployment rates on the rise, it seems the bachelor’s degree is beginning to lose its value for the millennial generation. Going to college is no longer the exception, it’s the norm.

A recent study estimates that a shocking 60 percent of college grads can’t secure a full-time position in their field of study. That’s more than half of graduating seniors on the job hunt! High unemployment rates and the weight of student loans have left many recent graduates frustrated, overwhelmed and discouraged. Some are facing a crisis of purpose and turning to addictions and other destructive behaviors.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a college degree is less of a guarantee of employment and more of a basic requirement for even being considered for many professional jobs. Further confirming this shift, Georgetown researchers have estimated that 63 percent of American jobs will require some postsecondary education or training by 2018.

Though studies show that college graduates earn significantly more money over their lifetime, maintaining employment and navigating tough economic times as a college grad may not be any easier than for those without higher education. In essence, employers are asking, “So what else have you done besides going to college?”

So, what sets some Millennials apart? Who’s getting the jobs? According to the Wall Street Journal, “What employers want from workers nowadays is more narrow, more abstract and less easily learned in college.”

Dr. Jeff Myers, President of Summit Ministries, a 12-day intensive conference for students, shares some critical insights about skills lacking among today’s graduates:

“While many young adults enter college because it’s expected after high school and most expect to leave equipped to be successful in the workplace, the truth is that in many cases, higher education is so mired in political correctness and postmodern ideology that students are no longer capable of the critical thinking they need to succeed in the workplace.”

As you counsel or coach Millennials, keep in mind that employers are looking for far more than just the ability to pass classes or show up at work.

Hands-on experience is critical.

  • Internships
  • Mentorships
  • Experience in the field
  • Specialized training in a niche area

Personal character is also vital.

  • Critical thinking
  • Internal motivation
  • Creativity
  • Character
  • Integrity

As Christian professionals, it is imperative that we help millennial clients find their way in the uncertainty of today’s career field and navigate the crisis of purpose that often ensues. Challenge the students and young people you work with to consider certifications, internships, a narrower field choice or one in high demand (such as education and medicine) upon entering college.

For those who have already graduated and are looking for work, a graduate degree in a specialized field may be a necessity. Encourage them to attend seminars and conferences where they can network and increase their skill set. In desperate economic times, employers are looking for those who will make their company better—those who stand out from the crowd because of their character, experience and critical thinking skills.

While a bachelor’s degree is a highly valuable, often required stepping-stone for employment, how can we aid students in compounding the skills learned in college to make themselves more marketable? How can we as Christian counselors and coaches help our millennial clients discover their passions and God’s purpose for their lives?

Take a moment to share your thoughts and experiences below.