College Hiring Outlook Highest in Nearly 10 Years

HR & Safety

This year’s crop of college graduates will find welcoming conditions as they enter the entry-level job market.
According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, 67% of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year, up from 65% last year and the highest outlook since 2007.
More than a third (37%) plan to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year, and 27% of employers hiring recent college graduates this year will pay a starting salary of $50,000 or more.
The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder between Feb. 10 and Mar. 17, 2016, and included a representative sample of 2,186 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the private sector across industries and company sizes.

Just because there are vacancies doesn't mean college students are always ready to fill them.

"In addition to an improving economy, we are beginning to see a rising number of retirements, which is creating more room for advancement and creating opportunities for entry-level candidates," says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.
"But just because there are vacancies doesn't mean college students are always ready to fill them."

How Work-Ready Are New Grads?

While prospects appear better, some employers are concerned that new college grads may not be ready for the real world.
Twenty-four percent do not feel academic institutions are adequately preparing students for roles needed within their organizations, an increase from 21% last year. When asked where academic institutions fall short, these employers cited the following concerns:

  • Too much emphasis on book learning instead of real-world learning: 47%
  • I need workers with a blend of technical skills and those skills gained from liberal arts: 39%
  • Entry-level roles within my organization are more complex today: 25%
  • Not enough focus on internships: 13%
  • Technology is changing too quickly for an academic environment to keep up: 13%
  • Not enough students are graduating with the degrees my company needs: 11%

What Skills Are Needed?

When asked to name which skills they think recent college graduates lack for the workplace, most of these employers cited interpersonal or people (52%) or problem-solving skills (48%). Other skills these employers stated include:

  • Leadership: 42%
  • Teamwork: 39%
  • Written communication: 37%
  • Oral communication: 37%
  • Creative thinking: 35%
  • Project management: 27%
  • Research and analysis: 17%
  • Math: 15%
  • Computer and technical: 14%

College Majors Most in Demand

Demand for students with business and technical majors continues to be high among employers with employers stating the following majors are the most in-demand at their firms:

  • Business: 35%
  • Computer and information sciences : 23%
  • Engineering: 18%
  • Math and statistics: 15%
  • Health professions and related clinical sciences: 14%
  • Communications technologies: 11%
  • Engineering technologies: 11%
  • Communication and journalism: 8%
  • Liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities: 7%
  • Science technologies: 7%
  • Social sciences: 6%
  • Biological and biomedical sciences: 6%
  • Architecture and planning: 6%
  • Education: 5%

Information technology (27%) and customer service jobs (26%) top the list of position types for which employers hiring recent college grads are recruiting. Opportunities also abound in finance/accounting (19%), business development (19%), and sales (17%).

What the Average Grad Makes Right Out of College

When it comes to pay, more than a third of employers who plan to hire recent college graduates this year (37%) will offer higher starting salaries than they did last year. Fifty-three% expect no change in salary offers, and 11% expect a decrease in starting salaries.
More than half of these employers (52%) say they will make offers to students before they graduate. Expected starting salaries for recent graduates break down as follows:

  • Under $30,000: 25%
  • $30,000 to less than $40,000: 28%
  • $40,000 to less than $50,000: 20%
  • $50,000 and higher: 27%

These numbers are subject to change: The majority of employers (67%) say they are willing to negotiate salary offers when extending a job offer to a recent college graduate.


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