June is traditionally the month of graduations. Over the past few years, new college grads have been worried about finding employment of any kind, let alone in their chosen fields of study. But recently, unemployment has been falling for graduates.
What Employers are Looking For
According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more graduates in the United States than they did in 2014.
Job Outlook Hiring Projections for Recent Grads, 2011-2015
Additionally, employers are looking to hire students with degrees in engineering more than any other major. Of the employers surveyed, 72 percent said they wanted to hire students enrolled in engineering programs.
Employers’ Hiring Expectations, by Major
The survey also asked employers to rank the skills they value most in new hires. Top competencies included critical thinking, problem solving, team work, professionalism, oral and written communications, information technology application, and leadership.
Approximately 55 percent of employers said they are planning to increase the number of college graduates they hire.
According to a separate report by CareerBuilder, business students are also high in demand. In the report, 38 percent of hiring managers and human resource personnel surveyed said that business-related majors were the most sought-after academic backgrounds that they were looking to recruit. Employers viewed education and liberal arts, general studies, and humanities majors as the least attractive academic majors for recruitment this year.
“Where are the jobs? When you look at it, from a demand standpoint –what types of positions are companies hiring and then get into the geography of where they need these people – a lot of it is in STEM jobs. If you look at technical jobs, engineering positions, analyst roles, health care…we’re starting to see movement in those particular jobs.” ~Joanie Courtney, Senior Vice President at Monster
Salaries For Graduates
Recent analysis by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown CEW) looks at recent salaries for both undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees. The degrees earning the highest salaries at the undergraduate level are in engineering.
Recent College Graduate Salaries, by Major
Source: Georgetown CEW
Graduate school provides an extra salary boost to engineers, but the largest gains are found in fields that did not offer high wages at the undergraduate degree level, such as history and political science.
Biggest Salary Increases by Graduate School Fields
Source: Georgetown CEW
Having a higher graduate degree also makes a difference in employment rates, especially for those in the hard sciences and social sciences. A study by Michigan State University found that opportunities for graduates with bachelor’s degrees grew 16 percent from 2013 to 2015, while opportunities for MBA candidates were up 38 percent.
Difference in Unemployment Rate by Level of Degree
Source: Georgetown CES
“During the recession, many companies may not have focused recruiting efforts on college graduates because of a lack of job openings and limited turnover. But now we are beginning to see entry-level hiring pick up. Compared to recent years, 2015 graduates can be optimistic in their job search.” ~Evren Esen, Director of Survey Programs at the Society of Human Resource Management