The college labor market is improving, up 3 percent from last year for all degrees. Strong demand for accounting, marketing, computer science, engineering, human resources, public relations, and the inclusive “all majors” group will increase hiring for Bachelor’s degrees by 7 percent. The increase in hiring has been steady but could be better. Financial services, which have been leading recovery in the college labor market for the past two years, deeply retrenched this year. If we eliminated this sector from our calculations, the market for new Bachelor’s degrees would exhibit double-digit expansion.
The market for new MBAs has been hit hard. Since January, finance institutions have been shedding jobs by the thousands and curtailing hiring targets for new graduates. The federal government also expects to hire far fewer MBAs this academic year. Professional and scientific services, mining and oil, and manufacturing do not expect to change their hiring levels. The total contraction in the market for new MBAs will approach 25 percent.
The market for other degrees will be mixed. Hiring for Associate’s and Master’s degrees will be nearly the same as last year. Hiring for PhDs will improve; more than 300 employers outside academia indicated they were seeking these graduates.
We attribute some sluggishness to political brinkmanship in Washington DC. When we collected survey data just before the government shutdown, some respondents were reticent about setting hiring targets amid a possibly worsening political environment. Yet fewer organizations were taking a wait- and-see approach than last year. Although it’s hard to tell what the wait-and-see organizations will do, indications are that they expect to enter the market in early 2014.
Nearly 6,500 employer representatives responded to our survey. Fifty-six percent (3,426) were full-time hiring managers or recruiters. Other respondents were recruiters who hire specific talent with work experience (1,067), internship and co-op program managers (995), and short-term work and contract recruiters (587). Only 2,202 full-time employers reported their yearly hiring targets; the rest were uncertain or were waiting until later this year.
When employers do begin hiring, the money situation for new graduates will improve. Base starting salaries will be about 5 percent higher this year. Commission-based compensation packages, including salary plus commission or commission only, will be offered more frequently. Signing bonuses will still be scarce, depending on competition within a specific sector. More often, generous performance bonuses will culminate a successful first year of employment.
The more the market improves, the more pressure on and competition among employers to hire the best candidates. Year after year, however, employers lament the lack of preparedness among graduates entering the labor market. Training and technology seem to be the answers for employers who want to circumvent talent shortages. A welcome shift is occurring in talent development programs: employers will be targeting younger students, identifying rising talent, and offering multiple engagement opportunities. Employers hope that mentoring students will lead to higher acceptance rates for full- time positions.
The college labor market has progressed steadily during the past four years. A more robust market may be just around the corner. The market will be competitive, and job expansion for most graduates entering the labor market will mitigate the problems students have with finding jobs related to their career aspirations.
The challenges for graduates remain the same as always. The jobs are out there. The best jobs will go to graduates who know where they want to go, know how to get there, and have a network of professional relationships they can tap for assistance with their job search.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at