Why the out­look for grad­u­ates in 2015-16 is so promis­ing

The Washington Post Sunday - - JOBS - RITA TRE­HAN Rita Tre­han is a free­lance writer who cov­ers global HR lead­er­ship and busi­ness growth. @Ri­ta_Tre­han

2015 is prov­ing to be one of the best years ever for grad­u­ates seek­ing em­ploy­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas Inc. forecast, this year’s crop of grad­u­ates is en­ter­ing the strong­est en­trylevel job mar­ket since the pe­riod of ex­pan­sion that pre­ceded the last re­ces­sion. Com­pa­nies are hir­ing, and the range of jobs open to en­try-level pro­fes­sion­als is on the in­crease.

The sta­tis­tics tell the story

The sta­tis­tics speak loud and clear on why this year is such a golden op­por­tu­nity for the class of 2015.

The Job Out­look 2015 Spring Up­date sur­vey by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Col­leges and Em­ploy­ers, states that new col­lege grad­u­ate hir­ing from the Class of 2015 is ex­pected to in­crease by 9.6 per­cent over the Class of 2014.

The So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment re­veals that more than one-third (35 per­cent) of or­ga­ni­za­tions hired col­lege stu­dents to be­gin work­ing be­fore or af­ter their 2015 grad­u­a­tion. Of the 65 per­cent that have not yet hired soon-to-be col­lege grad­u­ates, 71 per­cent plan to do so.

What’s driv­ing this rosy look­out are a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors

First, peo­ple are leav­ing the work­force at a rapid rate. Ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 Baby Boomers are re­tir­ing each day. Cou­ple this with know­ing that 2.7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans vol­un­tar­ily quit their jobs each month, and the need for com­pa­nies to re­plen­ish their tal­ent pool be­comes ap­par­ent.

Sec­ond, com­pa­nies are more op­ti­mistic about their growth prospects as the econ­omy seems to be on the uptick.

Third, com­pa­nies ap­pear be ap­ply­ing a more strate­gic lens to hir­ing. The newer gen­er­a­tion en­ter­ing the work­force hap­pen to be the lucky re­cip­i­ents of this trend.

The op­por­tu­nity for grad­u­ates

Grad­u­ates with de­grees in en­gi­neer­ing, busi­ness, and com­puter/in­for­ma­tion sciences top the list of be­ing in the most de­mand and are likely to find the job mar­ket buoy­ant.

While there is some de­bate on whether pay will in­crease, the good news is that few com­pa­nies are cit­ing pay de­creases. Grad­u­ates can, it seems, look for­ward to a healthy com­pen­sa­tion pack­age, which places them in a good po­si­tion go­ing for­ward.

What can the Class of 2016 learn from cur­rent trends

For the Class of 2016, the out­look on the jobs front ap­pears to be as good as it is has been this past year. The Job Out­look Sur­vey in­di­cates pos­i­tive hir­ing pro­jec­tions for next year’s grad­u­ates, with more than two-thirds of em­ploy­ers say­ing they ex­pect to in­crease or main­tain cur­rent hir­ing lev­els for the Class of 2016.

Grad­u­ates do need to re­al­ize that to cap­i­tal­ize on these abun­dant op­por­tu­ni­ties means not sit­ting back on their lau­rels, hop­ing that the job of­fers will come flood­ing in. Far from it; proac­tiv­ity and shoring up their skills and pro­file will be crit­i­cal if they want to be top of the re­cruit­ing list.

Some use­ful ad­vice for the Class of 2016 in­cludes the fol­low­ing:

• En­gage early with com­pa­nies that you might like to work for. Many com­pa­nies are mak­ing of­fers and court­ing stu­dents well be­fore they grad­u­ate, so don’t wait to get ac­quainted with the busi­ness of your choice. • Com­pa­nies are still frus­trated with what they be­lieve are the lack of “soft skills.” Many feel that univer­si­ties are fail­ing to equip stu­dents with in­ter­per­sonal, crit­i­cal think­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Grad­u­ates need to make sure they do not fall short in this area. In­vest­ing in de­vel­op­ing these skills is as im­por­tant as in­vest­ing in the nec­es­sary sub­jects of your cho­sen field. • Up-to-date and pro­fes­sional so­cial pro­files mat­ter. Delet­ing el­e­ments of a so­cial media pro­file that may be less than ap­peal­ing to a prospec­tive em­ployer should not hap­pen at the last minute. So­cial media pro­files should re­flect what a prospec­tive em­ployer would want to see.

It is a long time since the job mar­ket was this at­trac­tive for grad­u­ates; it would be a shame not to cap­i­tal­ize on it.

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