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The job market for college graduates takes a 180-degree turn for the better

When University of Dayton senior Max DiGiacomo returned to campus last August, he launched a job search that made him more confident than graduates nationwide in the previous two years.

“I’ve never really been afraid to find anything,” said DiGiacomo, a Cleveland-area finance major. “I started looking as soon as I got to campus, then started getting interviews a month later.”

A phone interview in September was followed a month later by a panel interview conducted over Zoom at a 2-day hiring event which saw him network with many people and complete a case study and presentations. In February, he received a job offer – a place in the Financial Development Leadership Program with BAE Systems in the Washington, DC area.

“It took a little while for me to get something, but it ended up working for me,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever worried about the hiring process itself, it’s just the changing work environment that’s a bit scary.”

For many students like DiGiacomo, the job market looks significantly brighter than it did at the start of the COVID pandemic, when it wreaked havoc on college life and put a damper on their studies.

While the Classes of 2020 and 2021 have found barriers to the typical job search process, graduates can now meet corporate recruiters who are more confident about hiring than they have been over the course of the year. of the past two years.

The statistics confirm it. Employers plan to hire nearly a third (31.6%) of new college graduates from the Class of 2022 more than they hired from the Class of 2021, according to the 2022 Job Outlook report. National Association of Colleges and Employers.

“It’s definitely been a positive year to graduate from college with a two- or four-year degree,” said Jason Eckert, executive director of career services at the University of Dayton. “The economy, although there’s a lot of uncertainty about inflation and international business, hiring is really strong for college graduates.”

Eckert, who has more than two decades of experience, said he’s never seen a more dramatic 180-degree turn when comparing what’s happening in the spring of 2021 versus the current market for college graduates.

Eckert said there were three reasons for this dramatic jump. First, with the end of the pandemic, “employers are really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“Uncertainty has been replaced with a healthy dose of certainty,” he said.

In addition, there are still people who have not returned to the labor market, people who have left their job to take care of a loved one or because of illness.

“Because of that, people have to hire to fill those vacancies,” he said.

The third reason concerns demographics. With the number of retirees continuing to grow, much of that likely accelerating as a result of the pandemic, it’s creating a need for hiring across the economy, Eckert said.

Employment is always a game of supply and demand, he said. When the supply of jobs is lower, as it has been throughout 2020, it is difficult for anyone, including college graduates, to find employment.

“When the supply of jobs is greater, the market becomes more person- or candidate-centric and it’s easier for people from all walks of life to find jobs,” Eckert said.

According to Job Outlook 2022 results, nearly 56% of respondents to NACE’s Spring 2022 Job Outlook Update survey say they will increase hiring at their colleges, compared to only 16.5% the previous year. A ratio of 41% will maintain their level of hiring. Less than 4% will decrease their number of college hires.

The data collected by NACE in its survey seems to correspond to general trends in terms of job vacancies. With job vacancies at the end of March at a 20-year high of 11.5 million and the unemployment rate falling to 3.6%, ‘it looks like things are looking up for people with a university education’ , according to Kevin Willardsen, assistant professor of economics. at Wright State University.

“If the labor force participation rate is going up and unemployment is going down, that means there’s a huge demand for that particular skill set, which corresponds to an increase in wages,” Willardsen said.

It also helps that “right now employers are just thrilled to find someone who’s ready to work,” he said.

Willardsen said students looking for jobs should always be prepared to relocate, if that’s an option.

“In many cases, there are a lot of opportunities out of state or in big cities depending on where you live,” he said. “If you live in rural Indiana and come out of school there, you might have much better options in Columbus.”

For students who haven’t decided on a major yet, Willardsen said they should choose one carefully. He said economics “definitely rewards” those who earn analytically rigorous degrees that have clear, marketable skills attached to them.

“That includes math, science and engineering,” he said. “These jobs have always been high paying, but in the last few years they have increased a lot.”

Another sought after area is the oil and gas extraction industry, which is doubling its college hiring and seeing the largest projected increase at 105.9%, according to the Job Outlook 2022 Spring Update report.

Other highlights of the report include:

— Respondents anticipate that 42% of their entry-level positions will be fully in-person, 40% will be in a hybrid modality, and 18% will be fully remote.

— The overall percentage of respondents who screen candidates by GPA fell to an all-time low of 43.5%. NACE calls this “a significant drop” from the peak in 2019, when 73.3% of respondents were selected by GPA.

— Nearly 90% of respondents indicate that they will be hiring for both full-time and intern/co-op positions this fall.

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