Towson is off for spring break next week. When we return, reality will begin to set in for May graduates. College days are over; it’s time to get a job.
So what’s the job market like? Great, according to Jobweb, which offers career development and job-search advice for new college graduates. Jobweb says this is the healthiest job market in three years. According to an annual survey of college recruiters called Job Outlook 2008, employers plan to hire 16 percent more new college graduates in 2007-2008 than they did in 2006-2007. The survey is conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) who also owns JobWeb.com.
As discussed here in More With Les, part of the reason for the bright hiring outlook is the fact that Baby Boomers are retiring. That leaves employers with many job openings to fill both now and in the future as the Boomer retirements accelerate.
Hiring projections are strong regardless of industry, economic sector, or geographic region, Jobweb says. Hiring is projected to be especially strong in the Midwest at up to 25 percent more this year.
That’s the good news. Here is the less-than-good news for communication/PR majors: Survey respondents say they plan to target bachelor’s and master’s level graduates with business, engineering, and computer-related degrees. The top priority hires for those with bachelor’s degrees will be accounting majors.
Rounding out the top ten degrees in demand at the bachelor’s degree level are mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, business administration/management, economics/finance (including banking), information sciences and systems, marketing/marketing management, computer engineering, and management information systems/business data processing.
The master’s level degrees most in demand are the master’s of business administration (MBA), electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, and accounting.
At the doctorate level, the degrees most in demand are computer engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and business administration/management.
Does this mean it is hopeless for communication/PR majors to get jobs? No, it does not. Getting a first job after college depends on many things, but it mainly depends on the graduate. You own your career. It is up to you to make of it what you will. For specific advice, see my October 12, 2007 post titled, “Getting, keeping and changing communication/PR jobs.”
Jobweb offers good advice on what employers want in new hires. Communication/PR majors take note — the top skill employers want is communication. Following in descending order are strong work ethic, teamwork skills, initiative, interpersonal skills (which they define as relating well to others), problem-solving skills, analytical skills, flexibility/adaptability, computer skills, and technical skills. This is valuable information for communication/PR graduate job seekers. If this is what potential employers seek, look for opportunities to stress these skills in your interviews.
I am happy to see one of my strongest recommendations to my students validated by Jobweb: get work experience. Ninety-five percent of employers prefer to hire recent graduates who have some work experience. Further, employers say they look first to their own interns for possible full-time hires. Towson’s Mass Communication & Communication Studies department heavily stresses internships for undergraduates. Here is proof of why internships are so valuable — employers say that almost two-thirds of their new hires have internship experience. Jobweb says internships tell a potential employer that you have tested your career choice up close and have learned some of the basics of the workplace.
I hired many employees in my practitioner days, including recent college graduates. I can add that, in addition to internships, employers look for any work experience as valuable. It does not matter what the job was. If a student works his/her way through college doing even typical college student jobs, you have proved you know how to earn a pay check. Working during college demonstrates a work ethic, flexibility/adaptability, and initiative, all key skills employers value.