Job prospects remain tight for college grads


It's that time of year when pollen from blossoms rile sinuses, and looming graduations rouse college seniors to an anxiety much more profound than hay fever: looming unemployment.

In recent years, the job outlook for recent college graduates has been especially grim. Companies laying off longtime employees weren't interested in hiring.

Now that the economy is on the rebound, have prospects improved for the class of 1995? Who's getting hired?

Patrick Scheetz

Director, Collegiate Employment Research Institute Michigan State University

Our survey of employers' recruiting plans this year found the most substantial increase in new hiring in 10 years, but that is from a very low level. Employers are just beginning to show some recovery from a very severe recession.

The main message we are receiving from employers is that the students have expectations that are a bit on the egotistical side -- not only in salary expectations, but in what they can perform on the job. Too many graduates have said they could do more than they really could.

I would advise freshmen to pick a career area that really interests them. Employers want someone who is really enthusiastic about their field of study. Then I would ask questions about job supply and starting salaries.

We're finding the most jobs are in computers, engineering, finance, sales, medical, and environmental services. Also, chemists, actuaries, and leisure field occupations.

The highest average starting salary was for chemical engineers at $40,689 a year. The lowest were telecommunications jobs at $20,821.

On graduation day, 25 percent to 30 percent of the seniors will have jobs in their pockets. Another 20 percent will go on to graduate school. Six months after graduation 12 percent will be unemployed, and 20 percent to 25 percent will be in jobs that don't require college.

I think it is tougher to be a new college graduate today than it was in the past. I would hate to have to start over and have to compete in this market.

Charles L. Maskell

Member in charge of recruiting, C.W. Amos & Co.

I've been going on to campuses for 10 years, and it's more competitive now.

For the students, it's more competitive because the number of jobs being offered is smaller than it was 10 years ago. Our firm is a bad measure, though, because we've grown. Last year we had five positions, and this year we're going for 11.

For the companies, it is more competitive because there are fewer accounting students. And there's a lot of competition for the top 20 percent of the class. We've expanded the scope of our recruiting to Pennsylvania and Richmond, Va., because the competition is very fierce.

What we look for is the executive presence of the person, the ability to communicate well.

I would recommend getting an accounting degree, but to also study the computer area and liberal arts. You must learn to write and reason and think critically.

John Pazourek

Employment representative, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

Our hiring is down. We don't have any openings right now, and if we do hire, you could probably count them on one hand.

We used to go to 20 schools a year. Now we only go to a couple schools to recruit, and we really use that to build our applicant pool.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, we are looking for engineers, either electrical or mechanical. We don't use grades as a cut off. It is flexible, although we don't like to go below a 3.0. We look for someone who has worked in the industry or developed 'f leadership potential in organizations, fraternities or whatever.

What we are looking for is objectivity. Does the person have a sense of their own strengths and weaknesses?

I ask what their weaknesses are. I hated that question when I was being interviewed. But you really can tell if someone is being honest and sincere.

The wrong response? "I don't have any weaknesses." I know they are lying.

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