Are you graduating from college this year, or do you know someone who is? This year's graduates may have something to celebrate besides their newly earned degrees. According to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers plan to hire 19.3 percent more recent graduates this year than last.
As reported on usatoday.com, the increase in open positions means employers have half as many applicants per job now than at this time last year: 21.1 applicants this year versus 40.5 in 2010. That's good news for graduates, as employers reported a double-digit increase in their spring hiring projections for the first time since 2007.
According to NACE, the top-paying major for the class of 2011 is chemical engineering. It has an average starting salary of $66,886. The accounting services industry has the most projected job openings for this year: 7,244 spots.
Manufacturing jobs are picking up too. As noted in the USA Today report, the Midwest is seeing an increase in manufacturing, information technology, and sales openings, said Kelley Bishop, executive director of career services at Michigan State University. Not only can these companies now afford to hire graduates, they need to because they put it off during the recession, Bishop said.
A Michigan State survey of 4,600 employers found that companies will hire 10 percent more graduates with bachelor's degrees this year, the first increase in two years.
CareerBuilder's annual college job forecast also found that employers are gradually hiring more recent college graduates this year. Forty-six percent of employers said they plan to hire college graduates in 2011, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 43 percent in 2009.
Of those who plan to hire recent college graduates, 26 percent reported they will offer higher starting salaries than they did in 2010, an improvement from 16 percent who said the same in last year's survey and 11 percent in 2009.
Thirty-one percent of employers plan to offer recent college graduates starting salaries ranging between $30,000 and $40,000. An additional 21 percent will offer between $40,000 and $50,000, and 24 percent will offer $50,000 or more. Twenty-four percent will offer less than $30,000.
However, the CareerBuilder survey made no mention of manufacturing jobs. Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, said, "Companies are adding jobs in a variety of areas and need fresh, educated talent to fill those roles. Our survey found that they will recruit college grads primarily for IT, customer service, sales, finance, accounting, and marketing jobs this year."
The latest outlook from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas also shows reason for optimism, proclaiming that the entry-level market is the best in three years — but still fiercely competitive.
"Entry-level hiring has not returned to pre-recession levels, but this year's graduates should find markedly improved job-search conditions. Colleges and universities around the country are reporting increased on-campus recruiting and surveys of employers indicate more graduate hiring, as companies rebuild their bench-strength after massive layoffs during the downturn," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Wondering which graduates have the edge? Employers surveyed by CareerBuilder shared the overall skill sets they are looking for from new grads, including:
- Strong written and verbal communications — 69 percent
- Technical skills — 57 percent
- Project management — 44 percent
- Research — 30 percent
- Math — 31 percent
- Knowledge of using mobile applications and technologies — 21 percent
- Public speaking — 20 percent
- Basic accounting skills — 21 percent
- Adept at using social media — 16 percent
- Bilingual — 15 percent
The survey also revealed that while work experience is one of the most influential factors in their decision to hire recent college graduates, employers reported that other activities qualify as relevant experience:
- Internships — 68 percent
- Part-time jobs in another area or field — 51 percent
- Volunteer work — 41 percent
- Class work — 34 percent
- Involvement in school organizations — 33 percent
- Involvement in managing activities for sororities and fraternities — 20 percent
- Participation in sports — 12 percent
According to the survey, when new college graduates are applying and interviewing for jobs, they should be mindful of their overall demeanor and behavior. When asked to identify the biggest mistakes that recent college graduates made during the application and interview process, employers said coming to the interview with no knowledge of the company (58 percent), acting entitled (54 percent), dressing inappropriately (52 percent), not asking good questions during the interview (50 percent), not turning off their cell phone before the interview (44 percent), and acting bored (42 percent). Mistakes for all job seekers to avoid, regardless of how long it's been since completing their education.
Here's to the class of 2011. Go forth and enjoy your brighter prospects!
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