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.
“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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