For next year’s college graduates, a better prospect of getting a job

October 14, 2012

College students slated to get their diplomas in 2013 have better prospects of landing a job than their counterparts who graduated this year, according to a recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The trade group of career and recruiting professionals said that employers in its membership on average intend to hire 13 percent more new graduates next year than they did in 2012.

“It’s a positive market that they’re graduating into, but they still need to be very proactive” to get hired, said Andrea Koncz, employment information manager for the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

In the Washington area, hiring professionals and college career center workers say the survey findings are consistent with what they are seeing in this region: More opportunities are on the horizon for 2013 graduates as some employers grow more confident that the economic recovery is gaining traction.

“The economy has improved, so there’s greater demand in the market for all products and services. Companies are needing to expand the pool they’re looking at to find talent,” said Josh Howarth, regional vice president at staffing firm Robert Half International.

Survey respondents said they were most likely to hire new graduates with degrees in finance, computer and information science, or accounting. Since these sectors are facing a shortage of skilled, experienced workers, employers are especially willing to look to these job seekers to fill openings.

At McLean-based wealth management firm Cassaday & Company, chief executive Stephan Cassaday says his firm plans to hire twice as many new graduates next year as it did this year.

Cassaday said he likes hiring recent graduates in spite of their inexperience “because they don’t have bad habits.” He mostly looks to universities in the District and Virginia for new workers, since he says they have consistently produced good job candidates for his business in the past.

Like many accounting firms, Bethesda-based Bond Beebe is dealing with a dearth of qualified, experienced job candidates. It has already made job offers to four students who are set to graduate in the spring. Cynthia Dietrich, the company’s director of human resources, said that number could easily increase in the coming months.

“With the economy turning around, of course the need for more employees grows,” Dietrich said.

Local colleges and universities said that employers have recently boosted their efforts to reach their rising graduates.

At George Washington University, “we are seeing an increase of employers being active in recruiting,” said Graham Bottrel, the school’s assistant director for employer partnerships.

American University saw a 30 percent year-over-year increase in the number of employers that participated in the school’s annual career fair in October.

Rick Hearin, director of University of Maryland’s career center, said that the number of organizations scheduled to visit the campus to interview students is up 24 percent over last year.

“At a career fair, you’re just kind of waving the flag,” Hearin said. With interviews, though, “you’re getting ready to make some commitments.”

At Montgomery College, there has been a 9 percent uptick since last year in the number of job openings that employers have posted using the community college’s online job board. Eric Myren, the school’s director of Student Employment Services, said health sciences, business services and information technology have been among the sectors where there have been more postings.

Paul Villella, chief executive of Reston-based recruiting firm HireStrategy, said that he too has noticed a change in approach to hiring new graduates.

Among the employers he works with in the Washington area, “we’ve seen more internal HR and recruitment staff dedicated full-time to college placement,” he said.

Demand is not as robust for those who have majored in humanities and social sciences.

“It’s not to say that the other majors will not find jobs, there will be opportunities for them,” Koncz said. But, she said, it’s especially important for students with these majors to pursue internships and other work experience to fortify their résumés.

Sarah Halzack is a reporter and Web editor for Capital Business. She covers the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She occasionally writes for other sections at the Post, most frequently in the form of dance reviews, dance features, book reviews and obituaries.
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