U.S. job market tightens

Career counselors, online recruiters and GW students said qualified students can still find jobs despite an economic slowdown that has caused the job market to tighten.

Representatives from Careerbuilder.com and techies.com – both job-matching sites – said many opportunities are still available for students. But they said companies, especially in the technology sector, require more experience.

“College students will find a tougher job market but not an impossible market as the overall unemployment number is still around four percent,” said Barry Lawrence, director of corporate communications for Careerbuilder.com. “Students need to bring leadership and communication skills and have patience. Surround yourself with other experiences, and you will find something.”

A techies.com study conducted for the first quarter of 2001 showed that the number of entry-level positions posted on the Web site dropped from 17 to six percent of all job listings as companies look for more candidates with extensive experience.

“This only implies that there has been a slow-down in the sector,” said Anna Braasch, techies.com media and community relations manager. “Technology is still in very high demand, but the frenzy won’t be as great as it was during the past couple years.”

There was actually a hiring shortage in 2000, and another shortfall is expected for the current year, according to numbers released by the Information Technology Association of America. Out of 1.6 million technology-related positions in demand last year, 850,000 positions went unfilled, and the company projects that only about half of the 900,000 opportunities in 2001 will be filled.

“If the people currently being laid off are high-skilled, they are quickly being reabsorbed,” Lawrence said. “The market is still expanding though companies aren’t as patient for training and development of new employees, so the key is to get some experience, somehow.”

About 32 percent of employers in all sectors expanded their staff in 2000, and 28 percent of the companies will continue to expand in 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

GW Career Center officials said job opportunities will rise as aging baby boomers leave the job market.

“The news that we hear is a leveling out of the job market and overall, we are not noticing a difference in employer interest as we held our largest career fairs ever, this past year,” said Marva Gumbs, executive director of the Career Center.

In the public policy and government sector, recruitment Web sites indicate that new jobs continue to open.

“I think the market has stayed strong and if students have internships and volunteer experience they can expect better pay,” said April Brubach, publisher of the Maryland-based Opportunities in Public Affairs newsletter.
Junior finance major Greg James said he may take an internship to move onto a full-time job.

“I am confident, I think there is a job out there for me,” he said. “There are always internships you can turn into jobs.”

According to Career Center surveys, 72 percent of GW’s class of 2000 is employed, and 23 percent of the class is going on to receive a higher degree. Prospects for the class of 2001 should be about the same as last year, as long as “students are prepared and do their homework,” Gumbs said.
Students still have a chance to find a job if they have not started, but they need to start quickly, Gumbs said.

Some seniors moving onto professional careers said they will rely on their experience and who they know.

“I have had many jobs and have made good contacts so I don’t think I should have any problems,” senior English and dance major Colleen Hooper said.

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