With college seniors around the nation returning to their respective campuses following spring break recess, many will undoubtedly turn their attention to their impending graduation and the search for their first post-collegiate job. A new analysis of the entry-level job market estimates that while the job market continues to strengthen for college graduates, the environment remains highly competitive, which may force some to pursue unexpected career paths.
In its annual college graduate job-market outlook, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. says this year’s crop of 1.8 million bachelor’s degree recipients will be able to take advantage of the 36 consecutive months of private-sector employment growth that has occurred since the jobs recovery began in earnest in March 2010.
“Job creation has been slow, but it has been steady. Over the past 14 months, private payrolls have grown by an average of 190,000 new workers per month. There are a growing number of opportunities for job seekers, but the search definitely requires an aggressive approach. This is especially true for new graduates, who are likely to have less real-world experience to point to in job interviews,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“This lack of experience would have less impact if they were only competing for jobs with their fellow graduates. However, in this economy, it is likely that they will be vying for entry-level job opportunities with those who have been in the workforce for one to five years. They may even be competing with seniors looking for any opportunity to continue working even it means taking a dramatic cut in pay, title and responsibility,” he added.
Despite increased competition for entry-level positions, the latest data on starting salaries suggest that demand for new graduates is on the rise. According to a January survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (www.naceweb.org), the average starting salary for new college graduates earning bachelor’s degrees increased 3.4 percent over last year. The biggest gains were achieved by those in education, whose starting salaries rose by 5.4 percent from $38,581 for the class of 2011 to $40,668 for last year’s graduating class.
While those in education saw the biggest increase, last year’s graduates with a bachelor’s degree in engineering enjoyed the highest starting salary at $62,655, up 3.8 percent from $60,344 for 2011 graduates.
Engineering and technology graduates are likely to experience some of the shortest post-graduation job search times. In fact, the most talented students in these fields may have multiple job offers to weigh before they even collect their diplomas, according to Challenger.