Careers

About to graduate? Here's what April's jobs report means for you

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Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | Getty Images

The April jobs report, released this morning, held plenty of good news for those on the job hunt, considering a career change or preparing to leave college later this month and enter the professional world.

  • Unemployment dropped to 4.4 percent, the lowest since May 2007
  • The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs, up from 79,000 added in March
  • Wages grew 2.5 percent compared with April 2016

Though the participation rate dropped slightly, to 62.9 percent, down from 63 percent in March, many economists believe the U.S. may be approaching full employment.

CNBC spoke with Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at personal finance site Bankrate.com, about what this report means for those Americans who'll be graduating from college and planning to enter the full-time U.S. workforce for this first time later this month. Here's what Hamrick says new grads need to know.

You're not finished learning

Hamrick says grads need to understand that while their degree, combined with the best hiring climate in a decade, might make it easier for them to snag a good job right now, they're not finished learning, and it's unlikely they'll stay in the industry where they get their first job.

"Many [college graduates] will see the decisions related to their employment in the near-term as being some kind of endgame," says Hamrick. "The reality is that skills enhancement, education, must be ongoing for all of us in the workforce, for as long as we're in it."

But your employer won't train you

Gone are the days of of management training programs for new grads joining big companies.

Employees today, even entry-level ones, are expected to bring skills they picked up during internships, and in many cases you will be expected to fill knowledge gaps among current staff.

"These days new employees are being asked to raise the enterprise skills game," says Hamrick. "It's hoped they'll have the newest knowledge in technology, and they're being asked to update others in the workforce and help them accomplish their goals."

This can be a challenge, but it isn't all bad. Bestselling management author Suzy Welch says it's never too early in your career to lend a hand to other employees, even those more senior, and that finding a way to provide that support is a great way for early-career employees to develop a reputation as a team player.

"It's a heavy responsibility, but it's also an opportunity," says Hamrick.

No degree? Don't rely on retail

Retail jobs increased slightly last month by 6,300 positions, but the sector is still under siege and saw five-figure declines in employment in February and March.

Hamrick says that those who hoped to find work in retail may need to shift their focus to jobs in warehousing or hospitality and leisure. In fact, hospitality added the most jobs of any sector last month by far, growing by more than 61,000.

Those who've been on the job hunt for a while may also want to consider relocating, says Hamrick, as local demand for skills can contribute the "mismatch" that keeps workers from securing jobs.

Ultimately, Hamrick says the takeaway for job seekers is clear: "You have to actually do some research and find out whether the skills you have are matched to what employers are demanding."