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Job Outlook Strong for College Seniors

Thousands of graduating college seniors have good reason to believe that there is a light at the end of the job-hunt tunnel.

Employers say they are going to hire more 2004-2005 graduates than they hired from last year’s graduating class, according to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers survey. Seven out of 10 employers surveyed expected to offer even higher salaries to the graduates.

The group’s 2005 Job Outlook Survey, sent to 254 employers, showed companies are specifically eager to hire grads with business, engineering, accounting and computer majors.

Mark Brostoff, associate director of undergraduate career services at Indiana University’s business school, said the organization’s findings are in line with what his office heard during a trends conference in Chicago.

The trends tend to be fairly accurate because they look at stabilizing labor market we’ve had,” Brostoff said. “(There is) no question there is a need for business majors. We’ve kind of had a slow down after 9-11 but we’re seeing a strong rebounding especially in finance and accounting.”

In addition to business and computer science majors, consulting services firms, building materials, engineering/surveying firms and construction companies reported the biggest need for new graduates.

Employers to compete for grads

Employers said their biggest challenge throughout the year will be competing with other companies to find the “best and brightest” of new graduates. A quarter of the employers surveyed said they had plans to recruit on college campuses during the spring semester.

“When you look at the outlook across the U.S. you see again within health/life sciences an increase and in finance and real estate we are starting to see an increase, so it’s fairly welcoming news for students with business majors,” Brostoff said.

The survey found several economic factors have contributed to the improving college job market including economic improvement, business growth increased sales, lower interest rates, increased government spending, and increases in the market for new construction.

The aging workforce has led to increased employee turnover created gaps in company personnel positions. Of the companies surveyed, 56 percent rated the job as “good” and 22 percent as “very good.”

Leadership skills sought

With the need for more grads in the workforce, the interviewing and selection process will be increasingly competitive this year.

“As companies start to hire more or recruit more now that they’re expanding, they will be looking for top notch students,” Brostoff said. “Employers have always told us besides strong academic backgrounds and leadership skills, they would like to see students who have done work or involved themselves outside of classroom.”

Brostoff believes that leadership skills are seen as very important when employers are making final decisions.

“They don’t just want a member of a club, they want to see leadership positions, communication skills, ability to express career objectives and long term goals,” he said. “In addition a student who has an internship in a field or another area within their interest that’s also important.”

Brostoff claims that many of the characteristics employers look for remain the same over the years so it is important for students to start preparing for the job hunt early in their college years.

“Recruiters on campus have been pretty consistent with these attributes that they’re looking for,” Brostoff said. “Those are the things students at sophomore and junior levels need to start looking at to be competitive as a senior. There’s still time to make up for seniors who haven’t engaged themselves or at least find a way to discuss why or why not they haven’t been able to obtain the skills employers are looking for.”

© 2008, Young Money Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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