Employers planning to hire 13% more college grads of 2011
By Jacquelyn Weiner
Employment outlook is brightening for soon-to-be college graduates, with employers looking to hire 13.5% more Class of 2011 bachelor's graduates than the previous class, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' "Job Outlook 2011."
However, competition remains thick and companies are increasingly picky with who they hire, advisors at local universities say.
"It becomes more a means of not just hiring someone because of their degree, but hiring on a comprehensive level," said Harold Clayton, associate director of the Career Services Office at Florida International University.
In addition to skills and education, employers are seeking hires with flexibility and the right attitude, he said, looking to avoid applicants with a sense of entitlement.
Many employers also want workers who are willing to relocate, he said, which can be particularly challenging for Miamians reluctant to leave their family or cultural connection to the area.
Many students are "somewhat wary of moving out of sunny South Florida," Mr. Clayton said.
And with more jobseekers in the market, more employers are using grade point average to whittle down applicant pools.
More than three out of four companies in the National Association of Colleges and Employers survey said they are using grade-point averages to screen candidates, higher than ever before.
Most candidates use 3.0 as the cut off, according to the survey.
Employers are also scrutinizing applicants "by weighing a wide variety of attributes more heavily this year," according to the survey.
Top qualities sought include problem-solving skills, being team oriented, dealing well with conflict and a sense of humor, said Christian Garcia, director of the Toppel Career Center at the University of Miami.
Although "not necessarily things learned through the classroom," he said, employers want to ensure new hires will fit into the company culture.
Overall, employers are looking to hire more entry-level employees, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, although Southeast hires trailed the national average with a projected 8.3% increase in hiring of recent college graduates.
The West topped the other regions with a 23.5% year-over-year increase in hiring of new graduates.
As for sectors, business, engineering and technical-field bachelor's degrees like computer sciences are in the highest demand, according to the survey.
Education and architecture sectors are still hurting, but health care and finance are picking up, Mr. Garcia said.
"Our accounting majors get snatched up really quickly."
Also cutting back employment of new graduates is the federal government, Mr. Garcia said.
Federal government recruiting at colleges was on the rise since the early 2000s, he said, but is now declining.
"We're seeing a huge decrease in those organizations coming to recruit."
Mr. Clayton is also seeing the business and engineering fields increasing openings, evidenced through postings on Florida International University's online job bank.
Science, technology and healthcare are also doing better, he said.
One field he's seeing students leave is communications, he said, with communications majors using their transferable skills in other fields.
Another big employer in South Florida now cutting back is local governments, said John Moriarty, interim director of career services with Barry University.
"The local governments are not hiring," Mr. Moriarty said. "That's a big void still in the economy."
In contrast to Mr. Garcia's take on government hiring, Mr. Moriarty said federal government continues to be a major recruiter at its career fairs, including Barry's most recent fair Monday.
"They're still hiring and they said they've got plenty of openings," Mr. Moriarty said.
While health care is touted as a growth industry, local hiring in those fields is "still down from a few years ago," he said, held back by protracted budgets.
As for Miami-Dade's big sectors, tourism is picking up hiring, he said, while construction, real estate and development continue to lag.
"It's probably going to be a while before those come back."
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