There are thousands of college students set to graduate in 2009, many entering directly into the headwinds of a recession that has claimed hundreds of thousands of jobs in the past year.
So what's a college grad to do? Know where to look, and how to look. Businesses, though cautious, are still hiring and there are certain industries that will survive, and even thrive, during these hard times. Finding a job will be difficult, but not impossible. There are always entry-level positions for graduates - you just need to know where and how to find them.
According to the National Associate of Colleges and Employers (NACE), for the class of 2009, accounting, engineering, and technical majors are most in-demand by employers.
These are also the jobs listed as having the highest initial salary offers. Chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering, followed by computer science, rank as the top-paid bachelor's degrees. But don't make the mistake of thinking that you need to have those industry-specific skills to land a recession-proof job. For example, in healthcare, organizations such as hospitals not only need doctors, but also receptionists, registrars, computer operators, technologists, event managers, marketing assistants, and directors for community and public relations.
The Baby Boomer generation is getting ready to retire, signifying an increasing demand for healthcare services. In addition to typical doctors and nurses, there will be more need for specialized professionals like physical therapists as active seniors work their way back from hip and knee replacements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that about half of the 30 fastest growing jobs are in health services. The aging Baby Boomer generation not only places major demands on the healthcare system, but also promises a vast number of vacancies in the job market. Many positions, particularly in the energy field, will need to be filled. According to global outplacement consulting organization Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the oil industry faces 80 percent of its work force reaching retirement in the next decade. As a result, jobs related to energy are likely to see growth at a stable pace.
In addition to the things people will always need, such as healthcare and energy, take a look at what's needed in the current climate. Now more than ever, the world is facing the need to conserve. Jennifer Kellington, a career counselor at Ithaca College, highlights environmentally conscious industries as "up and coming." Kellington urges seniors to be creative and consider pursuing these "green jobs." Aside from scientists and engineers who can develop green technology, businesses will need environmental consultants who can help them become more eco-friendly. Heading to law school? Another thriving job in the environmental sector is an attorney specializing in environmental law.
For those seeking job security, a job in the federal government may be a beacon of hope. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook 2009 Special Report, only the government sector saw a significant increase in hiring expectations for the class of 2009, while all other industries saw decline. Federal government jobs are full time, well-paid positions with generous benefits, and plenty of holidays, vacation days, and sick days. Like the oil industry, many federal employees will become eligible for retirement over the next decade.
While many industries are vulnerable during an economic recession, there should be a wide range of job opportunities in the ones that remain strong. Among the list of fields expected to provide the best opportunities for job seekers are, accounting, engineering, healthcare, energy, the environment, and the federal government. Geographically, look to areas of growth: state capitals and big cities are a safe bet.
There will be enough entry-level jobs for the very committed, but college graduates will need to go above and beyond to stand out. Don't rely on websites like Careerbuilder.com. With millions of members, the odds of standing out from the crowd are slim. At the same time, don't feel like you need to compromise your dreams, and don't be discouraged if you don't land your perfect job right away. Ithaca College's director of Career Services, John Bradac tells students what it all comes down to: "You must follow your passions, no matter what they are."
7 Steps to Starting Your Job Search:
1. Start Now: It will take longer to get a job than in the past, and you know what they say about the early bird.
2. Visit Career Services: Search on your college's website for the Office of Career Services. This is a great resource for resume help, interview preparation, internship opportunities, and job openings.
3. Attend Career Fairs: You'll have a better shot if employers meet you face to face. Be sure to dress professionally and carry a polished copy of your resume. If you have business cards, bring them. If you don't, make some.
4. Network: Networking is key, now more than ever. Talk to parents, relatives, friends, faculty, and alumni. You never know who might have an "in." For large organizations, there will be hundreds of applicants. Avoid using websites like Careerbuilder.com as well. A personal referral from someone who works within the organization can send your resume down the fast track.
5. Intern: Interns are always on the front line when it comes to new hires within an organization.
An entry-level job can open up any time, and if you've been there and you know the ropes, you have a better chance of getting in.
6. Be Flexible: Consider applying to companies that are stable instead of glamorous.
7. Be Positive: Where there are challenges, there are opportunities.