01 Apr Slow hiring of college graduates: non-profits to benefit
CHICAGO – The graduating class of 2009 is entering the worst entry-level job market since the dot-com bust with many colleges and universities reporting declines in on-campus recruiting of up to 50 percent.
The increased competition for a shrinking number of jobs may compel spring graduates to continue their education, work for free or seek opportunities overseas. For many, the only option may be to return home and live with their parents until the job market rebounds.
Hiring has slowed significantly. Companies that are adding workers can be highly selective as the pool of applicants continues to grow.
Spring graduates will be vying for jobs not only with their fellow classmates but also with young workers who already have two or three years of experience, returning retirees shocked by a stock market devaluation of savings and even stay-at-home moms returning to work for economic reasons.
The biggest challenge this year’s graduates face is finding opportunities amid a retracting job market. Since July 2008, employers have announced nearly 1 million planned job cuts. The climbing job-cut toll doesn’t appear as though it will recede any time soon, too, as it recently reached a seven-year high with 241,749 layoffs announced.
Any downturn is especially hard on young people as they are forced to compete with more experienced job seekers. This downturn is no exception. The unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year-olds rose to 13.5 percent in Jan. 2009, which is up from 9.8 percent a year ago. Among 25- to 29-year-olds, unemployment reached 10.1 percent in Jan. 2009, which is the highest rate since 1983.
The current business climate is causing many employers to forgo campus recruiting this spring. At the University of South Carolina, employer participation in campus career fairs is down 20 percent to 35 percent while scheduled, on-campus interviews are down 15 percent to 20 percent, according to University of South Carolina career center director Thomas Halasz.
The Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has seen the number of companies coming to campus shrink by approximately 15 percent as compared to 2008, according to Steve Schroeder. He’s the assistant dean of that university’s undergraduate program and the director of the career center at the school.
“Students are getting fewer job offers and some companies have unfortunately rescinded some offers. In 2008, a typical student probably had three to five job offers. In 2009, students are excited to get one or two offers. There is general uncertainty and nervousness from recruiters as well as students,” said Schroeder in an e-mail to Challenger researchers.
The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. has seen the number of employers visiting the campus drop by 10 percent to 13 percent, according to a Flat Hat News interview with school career center director Mary Schilling.
In a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, Jamie Belinne (the assistant dean of the Rockwell Career Center at the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business) reported that campus visits by recruiters were down as much as 15 percent.
She furthermore noted that conversations with her counterparts at business schools in the northeast revealed that some business schools have seen campus recruiting visits drop by 40 percent to 50 percent.
Schools that specialize in preparing students for industries that are being hit particularly hard in this downturn may have the hardest time attracting recruiters. The Milwaukee School of Engineering recently reported that only nine employers had registered for on-campus recruiting in the winter and spring. This is down from 54 at this point in 2008.
While the outlook may appear grim from an on-campus recruiting standpoint, this year’s graduates should by no means consider the situation hopeless. While the job search may take longer, those who take an aggressive approach to networking and cast a wide net to include more industries and geographic regions should still be successful.
It may be necessary to lower one’s salary expectations or possibly accept an undesirable position. However, it’s important to remember that this is your first job and it doesn’t define the rest of your career path. What’s most critical at this stage is getting valuable on-the-job experience.
Despite the dire economic conditions, many employers continue to add workers. Even Microsoft, which recently announced that it will be cutting 4,000 positions by the end of 2009, said the cuts will be partially offset by the addition of as many as 2,000 workers in areas the company has targeted for expansion.
Recent columns by James Challenger
- James Challenger: Transferring skills the key to new work in today’s economy
- James Challenger: Expanding job market predicted to shatter glass ceiling
- James Challenger: Forget the money; Get the offer
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.