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Rosy job market for new college grads

(page 1 of 2)

College graduation season is in full swing and it’s likely that those recent or soon-to-be grads are already applying for any open positions at your company — if they haven’t landed their first post-college job already.

Their timing couldn’t be better. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, 74% of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year, up from 67% last year and the highest outlook since 2007. Half (50%) also plan to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year.

That’s great news for recent grads, as well as employers looking to boost their ranks the fresh perspectives young people often bring.

4 tips for succeeding in your first job

Be a team player. Working together and collaborating with your co-workers is an important part of succeeding in your first job. Ask questions, learn as much as possible about the team, and volunteer to help a co-worker whenever you can.

Ask for feedback. Establishing good communication with your manager is key. Ask for periodic meetings to discuss your progress and job performance. Ask for areas of improvement you can focus on.

Grow your network. Build relationships with your co-workers both inside your department and in other areas. Building a professional network is important to your career progression.

Volunteer for a new project. Volunteering to take on a new project or work on an initiative outside your typical job duties will help you build visibility and a good reputation.

According to Jim Jeffers, metro market manager of staffing agency Robert Half in Madison, the local Dane County job market offers the most opportunities for recent grads who majored in accounting, business administration, or computer science.

“In Madison, manufacturing, tech, engineering, banking, finance, insurance, and health care are all booming industries right now,” says Jeffers. “We anticipate that these industries will keep growing and expanding, and do not anticipate any slowdown of job growth any time soon.”

Jeffers also says he can’t predict what the hiring and salary uptick may mean for current workers, “but anytime there’s an increase in salaries it tends to bode well for employees across the board.”

Even with all this good hiring news, it’s far from a sure thing that a new college grad will land his or her dream job right out of the gates. However, Jeffers says that first job doesn’t need to be “the one.”

“The first job is just that — it doesn’t set the course for your entire professional career.”

According to Jeffers, these are the top six questions he hears from new college grads on the job hunt, along with his answers:

1. I don’t meet all of the requirements listed in the job description — should I apply anyway?
“If you meet three-quarters of the requirements, apply for the job. Some firms write job descriptions for a ‘perfect’ candidate — one who may not exist. If you show solid skills and are eager to learn the rest, you may land an interview.”

2. I have a great internship. How can I approach the firm about parlaying this into a full-time role?
“Talk with your manager sooner rather than later. Express your interest in staying and note how you’d contribute moving forward. Be flexible as to what the entry-level position may look like. If your manager doesn’t have the budget to hire you, ask for referrals to other departments that might.”

3. The career I’m interested in has nothing to do with my major. How do I start my search?
“Branch out to gather the information and resources you need. Tap your professors for ideas and use the resources at your career center. Ask your classmates if their older siblings or parents can advise you. Reach out to people who graduated last year for their input and referrals. Research local firms online to see if they hire new grads. Build your LinkedIn profile and join professional groups in your field of interest.”

4. I can’t get a job without experience, yet I can’t get experience without a job. What should I do?
“For new grads doing some type of work is better than not working at all, so consider taking a temporary position or internship. You can always continue your search while you work and the role could build your network and skills, and may even become full time. Be sure to add any work experience — paid or not — to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Highlight the experience you do have, especially roles that show your soft skills and customer service abilities, as employers place a high value on them. Restaurant and retail jobs, volunteer work, internships, and student activities provide great experience, and show you can balance schoolwork with other priorities.

5. The well-known firm I want to work for just turned me down. Should I keep trying to get in there?
“Thank the hiring manager for considering you and ask if he or she will keep the door open in the future. But expand your horizons; don’t limit yourself to working for the biggest brands. Many organizations can offer a solid career path to you.”

6. The salary for my first job offer seems low. Do I have any leverage to negotiate?
Yes — but negotiate based on hard data and industry research. Research market rates for similar roles, and emphasize your ask based on these findings. Additionally, the hiring manager may not be able to budge on pay, so consider what else you might negotiate, like schedule flexibility, more vacation, or training. Forty percent of CFOs surveyed said they are willing to negotiate perks.


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