Cause for Hope on 2011 Jobs Front

Finally, after nearly four years of demoralizing hiring projections, job prospects for college graduates are improving dramatically. 

I heard encouraging reports from leaders of Chicago-area agencies during a recent regional meeting of the Council of Public Relations Firms.  Many reported hiring more people so far this year than they did all last year.  This trend received further confirmation this week via two promising jobs reports from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the association of career services professionals. 

According to results of NACE’s 2011 Job Outlook Spring Update, employers are planning a 13.5% increase in hiring of new gradates.  NACE says employers plan to hire 19.3% more graduates in 2010-11 than they did the prior two-year period.  

Underscoring the importance of internships, NACE reports that employers converted 57.7% of their 2010 interns, up from 53.3 percent for 2009 interns.  For more information about the internship data, check out NACE’s 2011 Internship & Co-op Survey.  

Following are some other highlights from NACE’s 2011 Job Outlook Spring Update:

  • Overall, the number of applications employers received for each opening has risen nearly 45% since last year at this time, but the total number of positions/job postings reported by respondents has nearly tripled. Thus, the average number of applications received per position dropped from 40.5 in 2010 to just over 21 currently.
  • With the exception of just four industries, increases in hiring are seen across the board. Results suggest that oil/gas extraction, chemical (pharmaceutical) manufacturers, computer/electronics manufacturers, and employers in the finance, insurance, and real estate group are among the best bets for Class of 2011 graduates.
  • For the Class of 2011, college hiring is increasing in all regions. The increase projected by the Northeast is the largest, and nearly identical to what employers in this region projected in 2010. Compared to last year at this time, the Midwest and Western regions show the most improvement.
  • Employers were given a list of skills/qualities to rate and verbal skills were top ranked, followed by the ability to make decisions and solve problems, and the ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work.
  • Expectations for spring 2011 on-campus recruiting look promising, as 80% of respondents expect to recruit for full-time and/or internship positions.

These reports don’t mean job searches suddenly become easier, but the odds of landing a job are considerably better than any time in the past several years.  Where agencies were receiving 300 or more resumes for entry-level jobs last year, some report receiving a fraction of that number today.  Let’s hope this trend continues.

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