For the first time since the recession began, a majority of surveyed employers intend to hire new graduates. Although college hiring has consistently risen over the past three years, 2012 could see a larger year-over-year jump than the previous three years. According to a recent joint study from CareerBuilder and CareerRookie, 54 percent of employers plan to hire recent graduates in 2012, up from 2011's 46 percent. The year prior saw 44 percent of employers looking to hire graduates, and 2009 was at 43 percent.
The survey of hiring managers across industries and company sizes, combined with their plans to recruit for positions that focus on revenue and technology, suggest that employers are serious about finding workers that will help their businesses succeed today and in the future.
Who employers are looking for
When students are in the first or second year of college and choosing a major, they don't know whether their degrees will be in demand by the time they graduate. Both rapidly developing technology and an ever-changing economy make it difficult to know what businesses will need next year, much less four or five years from now.
This year's survey finds that companies are focusing on finding workers who have current technical skills and business acumen that can increase revenue. Businessmajors are the most sought-after students for 39 percent of employers. The next most in-demand majors are computer and information sciences and engineering, with 24 and 23 percent, respectively. Math and statistics, health professions and related clinical sciences, and communications technologies round out the list of top majors.
Employers are looking at each of these majors because they correlate with the jobs that they consider important to their organization. Twenty-five percent of employers are looking to place graduates in information technology roles, and 23 percent are focused on customer service. Finance/accounting and marketing are close behind, with 18 and 17 percent, respectively. Filling business development roles is also a top priority for 17 percent of employers.
New graduates aren't only concerned with whether or not they will find a job, they are also curious about compensation. Fortunately for the class of 2012, 29 percent of employers looking to hire new graduates will offer higher starting salaries than they did last year. This is how surveyed employers project their starting salaries for graduates:
30 percent will pay $30,000 to less than $40,000
28 percent will pay $50,000 and higher
21 percent will pay $40,000 to less than $50,000
20 percent will pay $30,000 or lower
How to stand out
One of the benefits of college life is that students have the opportunity to take their experiences beyond the classroom. Although relevant coursework and a strong GPA are beneficial to a job search, employers look at other aspects of a graduate's experience. In fact, 53 percent of employers consider volunteer work as relevant experience. Managing activities for sororities and fraternities is relevant for 26 percent of employers, and even 12 percent will consider personal or school-related social media activities.
Social media can be a drawback and make you stand out for the wrong reasons if you don't clean up your profile. Of surveyed employers, 15 percent say they didn't hire a recent graduate because of something they found on a social media site.
In a competitive job market, job seekers can't afford to make the mistake of leaving unflattering content on their public accounts. Hiring managers are looking to bring in graduates whose experience and skills will help their businesses grow, and they choose carefully. Consider that 49 percent of employers recruit recent graduates through employee referrals, and 42 percent recruit through online job sites. Employers are investing their time and money to bring in new graduates with fresh skills, so standing out for all the right reasons is imperative for the class of 2012.