College Grads, Check out the Career Landscape

graduates_11-1_2 Sophia Foster is a longtime education writer and most frequently covers topics related to master’s degree-level education on the Internet,


NACE survey shows employers will hire more grads
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Job Outlook 2013 Survey, the job market for new college graduates is on the upswing. Employers anticipate hiring 13 percent more class of 2013 college graduates than they hired from the class of 2012. The survey results, which were gathered from July 25 – September 10, 2012, includes input from firms like Ernst & Young and KPMG, giant corporations like Procter & Gamble and DuPont, and energy companies like ConocoPhillips and Entergy. Of those companies surveyed, 244 responded. Full results of the survey are expected later this month.

Forbes, which covered the early findings of the survey, reports that the other good sign of employers hiring more grads is that “37.6% of respondents said they have definite plans to do recruiting in the spring of 2013. That compares with 34.4% of companies that had firm plans to recruit in the spring of 2012.”


Master’s: the new bachelor’s?
The positive signs are even more evident in the case of those holding a master’s degree. Studies show that employers are seeing more and more applicants with higher degrees. As The New York Times puts it, “Call it credential inflation. Once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D. or just a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, the master’s is now the fastest-growing degree.”

In their article, The New York Times highlights how the master’s degree is being used as a sorting mechanism for employers. “Browse professional job listings and it’s ‘bachelor’s required, master’s preferred,’” reads the article. Laura Georgianna, who is in charge of employee development at Welch Allyn, confirms that given two otherwise equal resumes, the candidate with the master’s degree always wins.


Field of study, just as important as degree choice
While students with a master’s degree enjoy a greater likelihood of employment post-schooling, there are also industries within those master’s that are most prosperous. Marilyn Mackes, NACE Executive Director, said that “while employers are seeking graduates from a broad range of disciplines, this fall they expressed particular interest in hiring new graduates with business, computer science, and engineering-related degrees and are looking to college campuses to supply their hiring needs.”

“Those most likely to increase their hiring of new college graduates include employers in chemical / pharmaceutical manufacturing; computer and electronics manufacturing; retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; management consulting; and professional services,” says Mackes. “These fields represent demand for graduates across a spectrum of disciplines.”

In June 2012, Forbes set out to determine which master’s degrees would provide the best long-term opportunities, based on salary and employment outlook. At the top: Physician Assistant degrees. Computer Sciences degrees were a close second and Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Economics degrees rounded out the top 10 – all having an average mid-career salary of more than $110,000 a year.

A look at the 2010 Census statics provided by The Wall Street Journal reveals that some popular majors like Nursing and Finance are doing particularly well. And with unemployment under five percent and high salaries throughout the course of these career paths – it’s easy to identify which focused degrees are faring today’s job market best.


The findings are everywhere: college degrees hold high value in today’s economic climate
A recent blog post by the Brookings Institute shows that “in recent years – particularly in the aftermath of the Great Recession – college has become an increasingly important determinant of one’s employment status. Today, a college graduate is almost 20 percentage points more likely to be employed than someone with only a high school diploma. This ‘employment gap’ between college and high school graduates is the largest in our nation’s history.”

In a report published by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University, hiring new college graduates is expected to rise seven percent. Covering the findings of that report, the Los Angeles Times reported that “employers are now more optimistic about the college labor market than at any time since 2007.”

Similarly, a recent Hamilton Project report found that the advantages of entering the post-recession economy armed with a college degree has never been more valuable.


In closing
Earning a college degree is no doubt a first step towards reaping the benefits of the improving job market. But, there are few important tips that experts believe will help graduates optimize their employment prospects post-college.

Fox Business advises:

  1. Consider job-hunting a full time job and focus on it every day
  2. Create a support system, i.e., a group of people who can provide advice about the job hunting process and get quantifiable experiences in their fields by means of internships or volunteering
  3. Continue building your skill set

Weathering the current economy is still by no means easy, though the journey is – slowly but surely – becoming more rewarding.