Your chances of having a job at graduation—maybe even the perfect entry-level
job—are great. This is the healthiest job market in three years, according to
many of the employers who are recruiting members of the Class of 2008.
Overall, according to Job Outlook 2008, an annual survey of college
recruiters, employers plan to hire 16 percent more new college graduates in
2007-08 than they did in 2006-07.
The growing demand for new graduates is a result of an increased demand for
employers’ products and services; in addition, employees—baby boomers—are
retiring or nearing retirement age, and other employees are leaving
organizations for new opportunities. Employers expect the good job market to
continue—or perhaps get better.
|Top 10 degrees in demand (bachelor’s degree
Information Sciences & Systems
Management Information Systems/
Business Data Processing
|Top degrees in demand (master’s degree level)|
|Top degrees in demand (doctorate degree level)|
“We have heard from a number of employers that they are looking to hire more
new college graduates to feed their ‘talent pipeline,’ ” says Marilyn Mackes,
executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the
nonprofit that conducts the annual survey. “Employers are looking at new grads
as their future leaders and want to groom them for those roles.”
Hiring projections are strong across the board—regardless of industry,
economic sector, or geographic region. Hiring expectations are especially strong
in the Midwest, where employers anticipate hiring 25 percent more new college
graduates this year. Competition is expected to be particularly fierce for
graduates in the engineering, computer science, and accounting fields.
Service-sector employers have the most aggressive hiring plans and expect to
increase their college hires by nearly 18 percent over 2006-07. Manufacturers
anticipate an increase of nearly 15 percent in college hires.
Overall, nearly 58 percent of the employers responding to NACE’s survey
reported plans to increase their college hiring; more than one-third (36.5
percent) said they’ll maintain their college hiring at 2006-07 levels. Less than
6 percent expect to trim their college hiring.
"Employers are optimistic about hiring," says Andrea Koncz, NACE employment
information manager. But “don’t sit back and wait for an employer to find you.
The better job market doesn't mean finding a first job will be an easy ride,"
she says. "If you want a job at or soon after graduation, you'll need to begin
your job search early and work hard to find the right job."
Which majors are in most demand?
Employers plan to target business, engineering, and computer-related degrees
at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree level in 2007-2008. This year, at the
bachelor’s level, the list is topped by accounting, followed by mechanical and
electrical engineering, and computer science.
At the doctorate degree level, employers will mainly target computer
engineering and electrical engineering graduates, followed by computer science,
mechanical engineering, and business administration/management.
Employers looking for graduates with associate degrees,
The demand for associate degree graduates appears to have dipped slightly for
2007-08 graduates. In 2005-06, 33 percent of employers said they would hire
two-year graduates; in 2006-07, it was 39 percent of employers. This year, only
27 percent plan to hire associate degree graduates.
Degrees most in demand this year are technology/engineering and business
administration/management degrees. There is also a high demand for computer
science and information sciences majors.
Employers interested in two-year graduates include utility companies, state
and local government, and consulting services.
Employers that hire associate degree graduates say these students often have
more work experience than four-year graduates and have developed a good work
ethic, making them a good choice for entry-level hiring. In addition, they often
enter the work force with a special skill set unique to the positions they seek,
so employers need to do less training with these graduates.
In addition, most two-year grads have realistic expectations in terms of
salary and promotions; hence, they have more longevity in the world of work.
International grads find a market for their services
An increase in competition and trend data that indicate that the number of
Americans graduating with degrees in the technical fields is not increasing to
meet rising demand means that more employers are turning to foreign-born
students to meet their employment needs. One-third of employers responding to
the survey reported that they plan to hire international students this year. In
fact, approximately, 40 percent of respondents in the Northeast reported plans
to hire international students.
Who’s Hiring (bachelor’s degree level), by Employer
& Beverage Processing
Petroleum & Allied Products
Chemicals & Allied Products
Measuring Instruments Manufacturers
Electrical & Electronic
& Equipment Manufacturers
Business Equipment Manufacturers
||Computer Software Development|
& Data Processing Services
Business Equipment Manufacturers
||Food & Beverage
||Computers & Business Equipment
|Other majors in demand
||Psychology; English; Sociology; Political
Employers expressed an interest in graduates with electrical, civil, and
mechanical engineering, and computer science degrees.
By employment sector, manufacturers were most interested in hiring
international students. By type of employer, scientific equipment manufacturers
consulting services, computer software development firms, and computer &
business equipment manufacturers will be the best bets for international
Salary increases for 2007-08
Nearly eight out of 10 employers report that they plan to increase starting
salaries to bachelor’s degree graduates in 2007-08. The average projected salary
increase for bachelor’s degree graduates remains at 4.6 percent, with a median
increase of 4 percent.
Master’s degree graduates of 2007-08 have reason to be optimistic about their
average starting salaries, as most of employers plan to offer increases to these
grads, too. Master’s degree candidates can expect a projected average increase
of 5.2 percent.
Will you get a signing bonus?
It depends. If you hold a degree in electrical engineering or you are being
offered a job by a public accounting firm, perhaps. Just over half of employers
said they would offer a signing bonus to selected—not all—new hires. If
you are lucky enough to get a bonus, how large the bonus is will depend on a
variety of factors.
Challenge and opportunity
About a third of college recruiters note that there is a shortage of new
graduates in some specific areas: engineering, computer science, and
True and Tested (Annually) Secrets to Job-Search Success
Search Early and Call on Campus Resources
Yes. It’s a good job market…but don’t get cocky. If you want to have a choice
of jobs to be considered for, here’s some advice: Start today by stopping in
your college/university career center.
Beginning your search early is smart. According to a survey of last year’s
graduates, of those graduates who began their job searches before March 1, more
than half had secured a post-graduate job by April 30.
The survey also showed that sending your resume directly to an employer is
not the short-cut to success. The career center—and programs it sponsors—is.
Successful applicants relied on on-campus interviews, speaking with company
representatives at career/job fairs, viewing employer information presentations,
and posting their resumes on their career center web sites.
Take advantage of the resources on your campus provided by the career center.
Trained, professional staff is available to guide you through the job search
process and teach you how to take the various steps with success. (Note: People
pay big bucks for this kind of help out in the real world. For students, most of
these services are free or very low cost.) Plus, these career counselors know
the employers—they work with them on a regular basis—and can put you in touch
with the organizations where you’d like to work.
Don’t be fooled. A career counselor won’t find you a job or “place” you in a
position. They’re on campus to teach you something more important: the knowledge
to successfully find a job today—and in the future when you’re looking for your
second, third, or 10th position!
What employers want and what graduates lack
Strong work ethic
Teamwork skills (works well with
Interpersonal skills (relates well to
A good GPA is, of course, important to many employers. However, employers
want more than a sparkling academic record. They want new hires that will fit in
with co-workers and into the workplace, and are able to get the job done. Take a
look at the “skills and qualities” employers look for beyond the
Communication skills—both written and verbal—top the list of skills and
qualities that employers look for in job candidates. This year, employer rated
“strong work ethic” equally as important as communication skills. In addition,
initiative, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving skills received high
ratings from employers.
Unfortunately—and ironically—the very qualities employers look for are the
qualities they find lacking in many new graduates. More than a third of
employers say new graduates lack face-to-face communication skills. They say
many students tend to lack interview and presentation skills, telephone skills,
and overall interpersonal (gets along well with others) skills.
If you can
demonstrate you have these skills during your interview, you’ll have an edge in
the hiring process.
Get experience—it pays!
Work experience adds considerable value to your resume. Ninety-five percent
of employers prefer to hire new graduates who have some work experience.
When employers want to hire someone for a full-time position, many look first
to their own intern pools. But besides a potential job offer, internships pay in
other ways, including in actual compensation.
|Where Employers Look for New
Employer’s internship program
Employer’s co-op program
Campus web site advertising
Company’s web site
Commercial career web site
Among employers who pay their interns, the average hourly wage at the
bachelor’s degree level is $15.99. This amount could be higher or lower
depending on the employer, your degree, and the location of the internship.
The best way to find an employer with an internship?
“In most cases,
college students don’t have to go further than their own college campus to find
employers with internships,” said Mackes. “Employers reported that on-campus
recruiting, career fairs, and faculty contacts were their most effective methods
for finding interns. Students can start by checking with their campus career
center for information about employers seeking interns.”
Where will you find your employer?
You don’t have to go far to find your first full-time employer. Seven of the
10 ways employers say are most effective for helping find new hires involve your
college/university career services office. Check with staff in that office to
find out when employers will be on campus for information sessions, career
fairs, and interviews. Ask about employers offering internships and co-op
programs. If you take a look at the places employers seek new graduates, you’ll
know where to begin your search.
Your first full-time job will come with benefits
|Benefits Employers Offer New Hires|
401(k) retirement plan
Annual salary increases
Planned social activities
|Benefits New Graduates Want|
Annual salary increases
Casual dress policy
than two weeks of vacation
Benefits are part of your overall compensation. They’re also part of
what makes your job something you want to do.
Employers and new graduates agree on what is important in a benefits package
with their top five picks—medical insurance, life insurance, 401(k), dental
insurance, and annual salary increases. Except for a “casual dress policy,”
employers aren’t offering the perks new graduates want beyond those. While new
graduates would like additional vacation time, a pension plan, family friendly
benefits, and flextime, employers are offering employee assistance counseling,
tuition reimbursement, bonus/commission plans, and planned social
Prepare Three Things
Did someone hit the repeat button? Each year employers tell students to go to
interviews armed with three things, and each year employers say students arrive
at interviews having skipped at least one step—usually the first one.
None of the following take a lot of time—and doing each can improve the
outcome of your job search. Once again, here they are:
Take 60 minutes, go online, and learn everything you can about any company
you might want to work for. Your goal is to be able to articulate how you will
be a good fit within the company. If you have trouble putting your research
into words, ask a career services counselor for help. This is the easiest step
of them all—and the most neglected!
An internship or co-op experience (or several of these positions) on your
resume will tell an interested employer that you’ve tested your career up
close and you’ve learned some of the basics of the workplace.
Employers see internship programs as their organizations talent pools,
according to a recent survey of employer benchmarks. When they have a job
opportunity to offer, they look among participants in their intern program
first. Almost a third of all new hires from the Class of 2007 came from an
employer’s own internship program, employers said.
Employers prize relevant work experience even if it’s with another
organization. Employers responding to the survey that almost two-thirds of new
hires have internship experience.
Have a little class
Just because you put together a rudimentary resume in “career class” in
high school doesn’t mean you have the skill to crank out a resume now. Among
the skills you need to learn in college (and can learn through short career
center workshops and seminars) include:
- how to write a cover letter that markets you to employers.
- how to compose a well-written, error-free resume that articulates your
skills and course work as a match for the company and position.
- how to interview and explain the value you can bring to a potential
Research, experience, and preparation: If you have these, you won’t need
“good luck” to be successful in your job search.