Career Center: May grads face competitive job market
University of South Carolina graduates entering the job market this month can expect to face significantly tougher competition than last year, according to the University of South Carolina Career Center.
On-campus recruiting in Columbia is down significantly, Career Center personnel confirm, though other universities have seen an even steeper dropoff. Career-fair attendance was down 4 percent from last year; nationally, career-fair employer registration was down 25-30 percent. An additional career fair for science, engineering and technology students brought in 59 more companies to the Columbia campus than last year.
“Recruiting activity does not always equate to hiring activity, and that is clearly the case this year,” said Tom Halasz, director of the Career Center. “With fewer companies coming to campus, we did see some sectors hiring fewer graduates. But, at the same time, some employers hired equal numbers as previous years. What it means is you can’t draw clear conclusions about the job prospects for graduates from recruiting activity alone. Many students received job offers as a result of their internships last summer and did not participate in recruiting this year.”
Halasz said the Career Center continues to see the most demand for engineering, accounting, finance, information systems, insurance and risk management, computer technology, global supply chain and operations management students. Demand for liberal-arts graduates has not retained the high levels of demand experienced in the previous years, though college graduates of all majors who have strong technical, leadership and language skills, as well as previous internship experience, can still find opportunities.
These opportunities may not be in geographically favorable locations for some students. Others may be in occupations students had not considered, said Halasz.
While the South Carolina jobless rate has exceeded 11 percent, the figure is less than half that for college graduates and expected to remain so, Halasz said.
With the greater number of available candidates has come slightly lower overall salary offers for bachelor’s-degree graduates. According to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) released April 8, the average offer to a 2009 bachelor’s-degree graduate stands at $48,515, down 2.2 percent from last spring.
According to the report, the engineering disciplines fared best, as a group, posting a 2.3-percent increase in their overall average offer, which now stands at $58,438. Computer-science majors lost 3.6 percent off their average, bringing their current starting salary offer to $57,693. The business disciplines rose 1 percent to $46,973. Data is limited at this time, as liberal-arts graduates tend to get job offers later in the year, but it shows that activity for liberal-arts graduates as a group remains relatively flat.
For those graduating this spring and still looking for a job, Halasz encourages them to utilize the Career Center along with all their other resources. For those who will graduate in the future, he stresses the importance of gaining work experience through internships, co-ops and part-time jobs and gaining technical, language and leadership skills.
Graduates in demand: Engineering, accounting, finance, information systems, insurance and risk management, computer technology, global supply chain and operations management.
Skills in demand:
Technical, leadership, language.
Experience in demand: Strong internship.