Employers hire more college grads

The class of 2004 may have an easier time finding jobs than graduates did a year ago, with employers planning to hire 12.9 percent more college graduates, according to a survey from CollegeGrad.com.

The computer, financial and engineering markets are the most popular careers for college graduates this year, said Heidi Hanisko, director of client services for CollegeGrad.com, an entry-level job Web site.

“As we move forward in the market … (the country) provides more service-based jobs, selling more ideas of technology than selling parts,” Hanisko said.

Education, business and management – three job markets that experienced a decline in hiring rates last year – are now employing more graduates, Hanisko added.

Hanisko said many factors may have contributed to the increased hiring rate, but pointed to an overall boost in the economy as the most likely catalyst. She added that the entry-level job market is usually the last place to benefit from an upturn in the economy. Entry-level jobs are usually the lowest paid in a company.

Hanisko recommends that students visit their campus career centers in order to “be competitive with interviewing.”

“As a college student, prepare yourself for no matter what happens in the economy,” Hanisko said. “Familiarize yourself with a specific industry.”

A CollegeGrad.com survey also polled employers to see which criteria were most important when examining prospective hires. Employers ranked major, or degree type, as the most significant criteria.

Students’ interviewing skills, experience with internships and miscellaneous qualifications ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. Student grade point average ranked fifth, followed by the institution which they attended, personal experience and computer skills.

CollegeGrad.com surveyed about 11,000 employers and based their results on 1,000 responses. East coast employers made up 37 percent of those surveyed, and D.C. comprised about 3 percent.

Many employers said they are optimistic about the increased hiring rate this year.

“We’re up 20 percent this year in general in the U.S.,” said Ciara O’Sullivan, spokesperson for Ernst and Young of New York. Ernst and Young, a financial firm, ranked eighth for number of projected entry-level hires this year and will take on about 2,500 new employees.

O’Sullivan said Ernst and Young’s primary requirement of prospective employees is degree type. She said they look for those with an accounting degree or a “similar advanced degree.”

O’Sullivan said “changes in corporate America” account for the increased hiring rate this year.

“I think the accounting professional will continue to grow,” O’Sullivan added.

Employment statistics for the class of 2004 have not been compiled, but Career Center officials said graduates should do well in the job market.

“All of the employers who came this year … were very pleased with the students they saw,” said Maureen Waltz Boehmer, employer relations coordinator for the Career Center. “They were pleased with the caliber of the students here.”

Boehmer added that the Career Center is “definitely not scrambling” to find employers to visit the campus.

Some graduating seniors expressed hope that they would find jobs once they leave GW.

“I think the market around here is okay,” senior Larry Siedlick said. “I’m not worried … eventually I’ll find something.”

Senior John Swartz, a double major in political science and history, was offered a $50,000-a-year job as a contract specialist for the General Services Administration, a branch of the federal government.

“I got lucky,” Swartz said. “I guess it’s a good year.”

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