| NEW YORK, April 1
NEW YORK, April 1Sean Chua expected the hunt for
his first job after college to be tough. After all, he watched
his brother struggle to find a position when he graduated back
But his fears were unwarranted. The 21-year-old justice major at
American University sent out only seven resumes before getting
an offer earlier this month from IBM for an IT consulting job,
making him a beneficiary of a turnaround in the labor market for
"My mom's first position was with IBM so she is particularly
proud," says Chua.
Hiring is back in a big way on many college campuses, one of
several signs a recovery in the U.S. jobs market is gaining
After four years during which many students graduated to find no
job and had only their loans to show for their studies, most
college campuses are teeming with companies eager to hire.
A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers
(NACE) found 2012 hiring is expected to climb 10.2 percent,
above a previous estimate of 9.5 percent.
Companies such as General Electric, Amazon,
Apple and Barclays Global are looking for
new staff, even if some firms remain below the pre-recession
levels of new hiring. In another sign of the recovery, some
first-time job seekers are receiving multiple offers.
At University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the career
service office has seen up to now a 7.4 percent increase in the
number of interviews of students by potential employers from
last year and the number of companies seeking to recruit for
full-time jobs is up 9.2 percent. Undergraduate business majors
reporting full-time job offers is up about 10 percent.
Career experts at a dozen of U.S. schools said they have seen
an increase of 15 to 30 percent in the number of companies
attending campus career fairs. At University of Florida, the
fall career fair garnered 15 percent more companies in
attendance than in 2010. And 150 companies asked to conduct
interviews versus about 100 in recent years, said Ja'Net Glover,
associate director of employer relations at the school.
The increase in demand was so significant that it was the first
time in years the school had to use both the first and second
floors of the school's basketball facility for interviews.
"It's kind of like a no-brainer," says Kathy Sims. Director
of Career Services at UCLA. "The economy is better and the
college recruitment market is improving."
While the U.S. jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent in February,
unemployment among college graduates over the age of 25 stood at
4.2 percent. Historically, their jobless rate is half that of
Americans with only a high school education. Over the recession,
unemployment among graduates climbed as high as 5 percent,
sparking protests over the rising tuition cost of some U.S.
colleges. U.S. unemployment data for March, due for release on
April 6, is expected to show a total of just over 200,000 jobs
were created in the month, keeping the overall unemployment rate
at 8.3 percent.
BACKLOG FROM PAST YEARS, INTERNS SOAR
College graduates' earnings are also on the rebound. NACE says
the median wage for first-time job seekers after college for
2012 is up 4.5 percent higher than a year ago to $42,569.
That initial pay level can resonate over the span of a
career. Several studies show that the life-time earnings for
workers who enter the labor force at time of economic recession
are lower than lifetime earnings of those who are hired amid an
Given the tepid recovery of the economy, some caution is
required. In 2008, many college graduates who had already
accepted job offers were later away. After the run of lean
years, many graduates are stuck in low-paying jobs and
professions that never intended to follow, meaning there could
be a backlog of well-educated workers who need to get their
careers on track as well as new graduates.
However, with a wide range of employers -- from automakers to
investment banks -- back on campus offering internships and
full-time jobs, and not just to engineering, computer science
and math majors, the outlook for the Class of 2012 looks rosy.
General Electric wants to hire 5,000 interns this year, up
from its usual 3,000 to 4,000. Since 70 percent of its full-time
hires come from the interns pool, Steve Canale, head of global
recruiting, said that uptick will also translate into more
full-time jobs after graduation.
"(Companies) are saying, 'we have an aging workforce, and we
have to replenish the pipeline.' GE has always done it, but this
year a lot of other companies are also reloading their talent
pool," Canale said.
Chrysler said it plans to hire 400 interns this year compared
to 256 in 2011. The automaker has also hired almost 4,000
salaried employees since June 2009, about a quarter of which are
new college graduates.
The pick-up in hiring extends to industries that were among the
hardest hit during the financial crisis. Schools report that
banking and financial services companies have returned to campus
for the Class of 2012.
It's a stark contrast from just a few years ago when smaller
firms appeared on campuses to replace the corporations no longer
"Even students with lower grades are finding opportunities,"
says Notre Dame's Svete, who believes job placement at the
school is up about 7 percent. In 2009, only 75 percent of
students had jobs or plans for graduate school at graduation.
This year, the school expects that to climb to 85 to 88 percent,
closer to the 90 percent level of 2007.
Nathan Pace, a senior at American University, hasn't yet
found a job, but is confident for his future job. He started the
college four years ago and he has since seen each class of
graduating seniors have better luck finding jobs.
Many of his friends recently secured job offers. "The vibe on
campus is that people are excited," says Pace.