Quarter of work-study positions go unfilled

Confusion about employer expectations is a contributing factor

With the application deadline for this semester’s dual degree program closing on September 16, students who have applied will soon receive results regarding their attempt to find on-campus employment. In an already competitive environment, some students have pointed to an ever-higher barrier to entry for on-campus work — akin to credentialing — as a source of anxiety. To make matters worse, there seems to be confusion on the part of the student body as to what constitutes a competent application.

Credentialism, sometimes referred to as degree inflation, is a term for the growing difficulty of entering the job market after college, as many entry-level positions now require a higher level of experience and education from applicants. While this definition refers specifically to a phenomenon in the private sector, some would argue that a similar process is unfolding in the university environment.

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While it is recognized that most on-campus positions require work that requires specific skills—particularly those that involve students helping with research in specific areas—other offerings that cater to a more general demographic still appear to require qualifications that are disproportionate to the job description. For example, a posting for an administrative-oriented job required applicants to be familiar with Canadian art.

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The fear of being suitable for a desired job also plays a role in the question of whether potential applicants will submit applications: “I normally apply for jobs for which I may not have the full qualifications […] but I wasn’t here because I was concerned that if I made a bad impression by submitting unqualified applications, I might jeopardize future opportunities,” said one student.

given in a statement The beach, Work-Study program coordinator Kelly Sullivan commented that 25 percent of work-study job postings go unfilled, largely due to students not meeting job requirements. “This is primarily because students apply for jobs in general – that is, they don’t tailor their resume and cover letter to the specific requirements and qualifications that are sought for a job. When students do this, it is more difficult for supervisors to see how their experience applies to the unique demands of the role.”

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Because the work-study program offers a valuable opportunity for students hoping to pad their resumes, the expectation that they’ll have a strong resume to begin with (coupled with their misunderstanding of how to put one together) is daunting for many.

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