college

2019 College Graduates Have a Healthy Job Market

They can expect multiple offers as boomers retire and the economy chugs along.

Edwin Koc is research director at the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which connects colleges and universities with recruiting professionals.

With the unemployment rate at historic lows, how difficult will it be for new graduates to find a job? This year’s graduates will have an easier time finding work than at any time in the past decade. We expect U.S. employers to increase hiring of new college graduates by 11% compared with last year. Many companies are trying to fill the talent pipeline as baby boomers retire. Accounting, engineering, management consulting and advertising, as well as motor vehicle manufacturing and high-tech electronics manufacturing, will lead the way. But the labor market is strong across the board, and graduates may receive multiple job offers.

Will graduates have more bargaining power when it comes to pay? The strength of the economy hasn’t translated to salary growth yet. Usually, you would see higher salaries as employers compete to attract and retain the best talent. But on average, pay is increasing at about 2% a year. Workers with advanced degrees, as well as engineers, computer scientists and some people working in fields that rely heavily on foreign workers who need a visa, will have more room to negotiate salary and benefits than other workers.

Which skills are most sought after across industries? Employers are usually satisfied with young workers’ technical skills. But they complain about the soft skills—communication, critical thinking and project management—that new graduates bring to the workplace. Job seekers who emphasize their written and oral communication skills have an advantage. Some companies are even dropping the idea of hiring by academic major. Rather, they’re hiring workers with strong soft skills and plan to teach them role-specific skills on the job.

How is the hiring process changing? New grads won’t have as many opportunities to meet recruiters in person and will need to find job openings directly on company websites, LinkedIn and other online sources. Fewer companies are recruiting on campus, and those that visit campus do most of their work in the fall to lock in the best candidates as early as possible. Students need to get serious about their job search early in their senior year instead of waiting until closer to graduation.

Most Popular

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom
commodities

7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom

These seven commodity stocks are poised to take advantage of a unique confluence of events. Just mind the volatility.
September 8, 2021

Recommended

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
The Pandemic Pet Problem
Coronavirus and Your Money

The Pandemic Pet Problem

Lisa Gretebeck used telemedicine and other creative ways to handle a surge of new cat and dog patients.
August 29, 2021
New Perks at Work, for a Price
Employee Benefits

New Perks at Work, for a Price

The pandemic and an increasingly diverse workforce have led to more benefits options for workers.
August 26, 2021
Free (or Cheap) College for Retirees in All 50 States
retirement

Free (or Cheap) College for Retirees in All 50 States

Whether it's to complete a degree, gain new knowledge or just for fun, retirees can collect their books and get on (back) to school in a most inexpens…
August 25, 2021