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Nice Work, Grads

The Class of '07 wants -- and gets -- meaningful work and top dollar, too.

When this year's college grads look back, they'll remember 2007 as a very good year. They're entering one of the most competitive job markets in recent history -- only it's the employers who are competing for them. "It's a very strong market for undergrads," says Jim Beirne, a career adviser at Washington University in St. Louis.

Recruiters from consulting, investment-banking and accounting firms have stepped up efforts to woo students, and manufacturers and consumer-goods companies are making strong offers, too. Starting salaries are up 3% to 5% across all industries, Beirne says.

Some surveys, however, indicate employers are exercising restraint this summer. Manpower Inc. says managers are shifting their hiring plans into neutral, especially in mining, construction, trade and service jobs. But for the long term, a shortage of skilled labor has bosses worried.

Students will still need to do the legwork. Christine DellaPenna, 22, who is graduating from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., will join a corporate-training company that specializes in reducing workplace stress, conflicts and home-work imbalances. Last fall, she e-mailed alumni to set up informational phone appointments. She then interviewed for a job with one of them while home for Thanksgiving break. Result: her dream job. For more help, go to