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American Express Introduces Free Tools to Help Twenty-Somethings Navigate the Challenging Job Market

New research with hiring pros offers insights for recent grads looking to start careers

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In response to a growing trend of recent grads living with parents longer and struggling to become financially independent, American Express launched a new program today to offer free financial and career tools to twenty-somethings in partnership with the leading personal finance and lifestyle Web site for women, LearnVest.com, and the social platform Crowdtap. A new study conducted online by Harris Interactive for American Express reveals that two- thirds (68%) of recent grads and students are not working or working at a job that is not in their field. Additionally, almost half (47%) are receiving financial assistance from their parents.

“With hiring managers placing more emphasis on soft skills like communication, critical thinking, and overall professionalism, twenty-somethings need to think beyond just their resume for ways to stand out to potential employers.”

To help recent grads live more independently and establish important skills, American Express and LearnVest introduced two free online resources aimed at helping twenty-somethings better manage their money and their careers as they transition from school to work. These 10-day online financial bootcamp programs cover a range of topics from setting career and financial goals to learning communication, networking and salary negotiation skills. The free Build Your Career and Take Control of Your Finances bootcamps are available at www.learnvest.com/amexbootcamps.

“At LearnVest we recognize that a first job is the most important financial decision young adults make after college,” said Alexa von Tobel, CEO and founder, LearnVest. “We are thrilled to deliver financial tools and support to this millennial generation.”

American Express also launched a new community on Crowdtap, a social platform that enables consumers to earn rewards for participating. Twenty-somethings can join the American Express Crowd at http://crowdtap.com/brands/american-express to share their ideas, views and feedback about financial and career related topics. American Express will create and build future products and services that are important to this group based on the information shared.

“With the slowdown in job growth, recent grads are really struggling.” said Pamela Codispoti, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Card Services, American Express. “Through our partnership with LearnVest and the new community we’re launching on Crowdtap, our goal is to arm twenty-somethings with the tools they need to help build a strong financial footprint and reach professional goals.”

Advice from Hiring Pros: “Personality Counts”

The news on jobs isn’t all bleak. In a new study, American Express captured the views of 356 hiring professionals, 201 recent grads, and 413 students about the job market. While students and recent grads report that having little or no experience in their chosen field is their biggest challenge, the study revealed that a candidate’s personality can be more influential than their actual experience at acing an interview.

Sixty-two percent of hiring pros say that personality traits such as communication skills and a good attitude are the most desired qualities they look for when interviewing; coming in at a distant second, third, fourth and fifth are a candidate’s qualifications/skill set (36%), intelligence/knowledge (23%), work history (11%), and educational background (10%).

“The formula for getting hired after college is changing as the job market is becoming more competitive," said Christine Hassler, Generation Y expert, author and life coach. "With hiring managers placing more emphasis on soft skills like communication, critical thinking, and overall professionalism, twenty-somethings need to think beyond just their resume for ways to stand out to potential employers."

More than half of hiring pros (54%) believe that while social media has improved recent grads ability to think out of the box, it has deteriorated their writing skills (83%), ability to focus on a task (79%), and verbal communication skills (78%).

Where the Jobs Are

According to hiring professionals, corporate recruiters and human resource managers, the industries that are hiring the most recent grads are Health Care (46%) and Professional/Scientific/Technical Services (37%). While this is not surprising, Internet Marketing (29%) and Web Design (29%) also made the list as the fourth and fifth most popular industries hiring recent grads today.

Hiring pros were also asked to share their views on the most marketable degrees for recent grads. The majority of hiring pros said Technology (54%) and Business (51%) were the most saleable degrees today. Interestingly, hiring pros also noted that a degree in Entrepreneurship (8%) is a more marketable degree than a Liberal Arts degree (6%). This is surprising given Entrepreneurship as a major is a recent addition to the curriculum at many colleges and universities.

Industries Hiring the Most Recent Grads Most Marketable Degrees

  • Health Care (46%)
  • Professional/Scientific/Technical Services (37%)
  • Engineering (36%)
  • Internet Marketing (29%)
  • Web Design (29%)
  • Technology (55%)
  • Business (52%)
  • Engineering (49%)
  • Finance (28%)
  • Science (27%)

New Grads Don’t Know What They’re Worth

According to hiring pros, entry-level candidates with undergraduate degrees can expect to earn an average of $48,700 in their first job. This should be uplifting news for graduating seniors and recent grads fortunate to land a job. The survey reveals that students and recent grads are currently low-balling their starting salary by anticipating $38,500, approximately $10,000 less than hiring pros project.

Surprisingly, the study also revealed that employed recent graduates are breaking an old taboo: discussing their salary with friends and co-workers. Nearly seven in ten (69%) of recent graduates tell their friends how much they make and nearly one in five (19%) share their salary with colleagues.

About the Study

This study of recent graduates and professionals was conducted in early September 2011 by Harris Interactive on behalf of American Express. A population of 600 young adults were surveyed, including: 200 graduate students, 200 graduating seniors and 200 recent college or graduate school graduates who are entering the workforce; 495 hiring professionals: including: 119 corporate recruiters or human resource professionals, 250 professionals involved in the hiring process and 100 entrepreneurs. This mix of professionals was designed to provide a comprehensive view of those who are hiring, managing and mentoring young professionals. Among students, figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at www.americanexpress.com and connect with us on www.facebook.com/americanexpress, www.twitter.com/americanexpress and www.youtube.com/americanexpress.

About LearnVest

LearnVest.com is the leading personal finance and lifestyle website for women. Since its debut as a TechCrunch50 Company in September 2009, LearnVest has helped over one million women gain control of their finances. LearnVest provides trusted content, tools, and support to help women tackle their finances at each stage of life. LearnVest tools include: financial Bootcamp Programs, the LearnVest My Money Center, and premium support services such as “Ask an Expert” and LearnVest Coursework. LearnVest educates subscribers via the “LearnVest Daily,” a bite-size email guide of money and lifestyle tips for living on a budget. LearnVest closed a $4.5 million Series A round of funding led by Accel Partners in April 2010. In July 2011, LearnVest went on to close a $19 million Series B round of funding including Accel Partners, two new financial investors, and original investors. LearnVest’s Board of Advisors includes: Lee Barba (Former CEO, Investools/thinkorswim), Theresia Gouw Ranzetta (Partner, Accel Partners), Ann Kaplan (Former Partner, Goldman Sachs), Greg Waldorf (Former CEO, eHarmony), Greg Coleman (Former President, Huffington Post) and Catherine Levene (Former COO, DailyCandy). For more information about LearnVest, please visit www.learnvest.com.

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