Graduates’ Chances at a Job Steadily Improve

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Black gradsNew college grads may at least have a fighting chance to get jobs this year.

After two years of bleak prospects, there’s a flicker of hope for the Class of 2011 as national projections show the job market may be opening up.

Hiring for the class of 2011 is expected to be up 13 percent to 14 percent compared with last year, according to two polls, one in the fall with 197 employer respondents and one in February with 112, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, said Edwin Koc, director of research.

The market for new college grads took a dive starting in the spring of 2009, as the recession and financial meltdown led to layoffs, hiring curbs and a national jobless rate that rose to a high of 10.1 percent in October 2009. The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees was 8.8 percent in 2009 and 9.2 percent in 2010. As a result, more former students have taken on survival jobs outside their fields of study, moved back home with parents or applied for graduate school.

But John Hyde, dean of career services at the New York Institute of Technology, said there is a “brightening up” in this year’s entry-level hiring market. Recruiters who shied away the past couple of years are calling, and employers recently posted about 18 new job openings, many sales and marketing positions, on the school’s proprietary job board.

While this is a positive trend, Koc said, “We’re not back yet to the levels of the class of 2007,” when students had a median of 2 1/2 offers by April. Last year, more than 60 percent of new grads had no offer by April.

Hyde said he’s seeing an uptick in interest in engineering and computer science students, especially those with a background in cyber security; occupational therapy and physical therapy majors; and hospitality management majors, as some hotels and high-end restaurants are resuming entry-level hiring.

But they’re not alone. Some employers are looking for business, marketing and communications majors from among this year’s graduates.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which was No. 2 last year on the CollegeGrad.com list of top entry-level employers, wants to recruit 40 new grads in the coming months as management trainees in New York’s Long Island area alone, about a 25 percent increase from last year, said Dylan Schweitzer, group talent acquisition manager. “Our business is growing. More people are renting cars,” he said.

Enterprise has 68,000 employees nationwide.

Although the focus is on business and communications students, “we hire all majors,” Schweitzer said, looking for candidates who show leadership skills and “the ability to speak confidently about themselves and what they’ve done.”

As part of its continuing expansion, TD Bank plans to open 10 new branches on Long Island this year and early in 2012, creating about 150 new jobs, some entry level, said Chris Giamo, regional president.

Bank representatives are recruiting at college job fairs, seeking candidates to be tellers and customer service representatives, he said. Ideal candidates will have retail or customer service experience, as well as studies in business or finance.

Even with a glimmer of improvement, the job market will still be competitive, say directors of college career centers, with employers seeking candidates with internship experience and good communication skills. When it comes to local hiring, “it’s still hard to call,” said Fred Burke, executive director of Hofstra University’s career center, which just hosted its annual job and internship fair with the same number of employers as last year.

Lynsey Rocco, 23, said that “last semester I was really nervous about going out into the world” because of concerns that there would be no jobs.

A senior majoring in accounting, Rocco said she’s been taking the advice of her Molloy College professors, who emphasize the value of networking.

One interview in December with an accounting firm led to an internship, but not a full-time job.

However, a friend at a midsized accounting firm in Manhattan passed her resume along, which resulted in two interviews. She said her meetings went well, as she practiced ahead of time and “prepped myself with questions to ask.”

On March 5, she received a coveted letter, one that started out with: “Dear Lynsey, It is with pleasure that we offer you a position as a staff accountant.”

Rocco, of Oceanside, N.Y., said, “I was really, really excited.” Her job starts in the fall, so she’s planning to use the summer to study for the certified public accountant exam.

“Networking really is your best bet. … It’s all who you know,” she said.

Even though she didn’t get the job, Tiani Kennedy, 21, took heart that she was among the top three candidates out of 100 applicants for a full-time position with a literary management agent.

Kennedy, who graduated from Adelphi University in December with a degree in English, has been searching for an entry-level job with a publishing house or literary agency. But she said she’s found that most are looking for candidates with some experience in the field.

Kennedy, who lives in Brooklyn, said she’s been networking with professors and looking for opportunities on Bookjobs.com, as well as the school’s job opportunities site, called Pantherzone.

Last week she was offered an unpaid summer internship with a literary and film management firm. Although there’s no paycheck, she said, “I am extremely delighted that I’ll be given the opportunity to gain experience,” which can lead to a full-time job later.

She’ll also continue to baby-sit in the summer or find a paid tutoring position, she said, adding, “I feel a window has opened up for me.”

A creative approach to the job hunt can pay off. While speaking to a group of advertising and graphic design students at Farmingdale State College, Rick Chiorando, chief creative officer at Austin & Williams, gave advice on how to get a foot in the door when looking for a job.

He said he discussed the need to “get noticed in a good way. … I also mentioned that during the interviewing process they would be ‘looked at under a microscope.’ “

Here’s what he said happened next:

“A day later a package was delivered to me in my office. … It was an actual microscope, and when I looked through it, it revealed the student’s name with a line of copy that said, ‘I want to work at Austin & Williams.’

As it turned out, I had him come into the agency, and while I didn’t hire him, it became my personal challenge to get him a job. He’s been working at a small firm, loving what he’s doing, and we still stay in touch. … Who knows, maybe one day he does land here. … I’ll never forget how he got my attention.”

AT A GLANCE:
Average salary offer for grads of the class of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree is $50,034, up 3.5 percent from last year.

SOME TIPS:
?Go for “face time” instead of just applying to online job ads, said Felix Claudio, 22, a Stony Brook University senior majoring in engineering science. He’s accepted an offer from Morgan Stanley, where he interned last summer.
?Start interviewing early, so you get the practice, said Ted Bruckner, 21, a senior majoring in computer science at New York Institute of Technology-Old Westbury. He’s been on five interviews.
?Get on Twitter, where you can follow and hopefully impress prospective employers, said Jonathan Monahan, 22, a senior marketing major at Hofstra University.

Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.