As graduation approaches, the job market for graduating seniors is not out of the red yet, but it is bouncing back. Despite recent data that employers are hiring 5.3 percent more college graduates than they did last year, many seniors are still searching for employment, and some are using Career Center resources to help them.
Associate Director of the Career Center Emily Carpenter said that she is ‘cautiously optimistic” about the job market. Acknowledging the recent National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) report that ‘The job market has turned a corner,” she pointed out that the market is a long way from its heyday.
‘This is not 2006,” she said.
Surely the data is not pretty. The NACE report showed a 21.6 percent decrease in graduate hiring from the year 2008 to 2009, mirroring the plunge of the United States economy as a whole, and a 6.9 percent decrease last fall before this spring’s slight increase.
Worse, the effects of a poor economy may be exaggerated for recent graduates. A recent article in the U.S. News ‘ World Report cited a study by Yale economist Lisa Kahn that found that ‘for each 1 percent increase in unemployment, the wages of those who graduate from college during a recession are, on average, 6 to 7 percent lower” than those who graduate during a strong economy, and that decrease in wages can still be traced 15 years after graduation.
Graduates may also find their options limited. Another recent poll conducted by www.collegegrad.com showed that 80 percent of 2009 college graduates moved back in with their parents.
For Carpenter at least, the picture is not so grim. She said that for the most part students are getting hired out of college it is just taking a little longer than they expected. Students who do the right thing have been frustrated that jobs are not as open to them as they would have hoped. However, Carpenter insists that there is no secret formula or quick fix to finding a job in this market.
‘My only advice is, “get focused, stay focused’,” she said. ‘How they do it isn’t going to change, it just isn’t going to happen as quickly or easily.”
As for the data on students moving in with their parents?
‘I feel like parents have become more accepting of that,” Carpenter said.
Graduating seniors acknowledge feeling the impact of the poor job market. Senior Aaron Fisher said that he understands how many companies receive more rsums than they can handle, and students must prepare well for interviews.
‘There is a definitely a ton of competition,” he said. ‘Going the extra mile … is something you have to do.”
Senior Steven Burnett, who found a job as a research associate at the New York Federal Reserve, echoed this sentiment.
Getting a job is the result of putting in a lot of rsums and applications and following up on every single one,” he said. ‘For many people, it’s not about finding the right job, it’s about finding any job until the economy improves.”
Carpenter, along with Career Counselor Catherine Towsley, started up the Senior Job Search Group. Fisher, who was a member, described it as a ‘support group” for seniors sitting, waiting and wishing for gainful employment. The group, which met once a week for eight weeks during the spring semester, was a place for seniors to learn strategies and discuss their job searches with their colleagues. For example, Fisher said that he had been interested in working for Americorps and brought the idea up in a meeting
‘Someone else in the group had already done it, so they gave me contact information and answered questions I had,” he said.
Most importantly, though, Fisher said that it often worked to boost his morale.
‘It felt good to see that other people were struggling with this also,” he said. ‘You know you’re not on your own.”