Spring is finally here! For most, senioritis has fanned across campus faster than a spicy rumor. In one month, students will pick up their diplomas and pack up for the wide world. There will be choices to make – and bills to pay. When it comes to employment, the Class of 2015 couldn’t have picked a better time to graduate.
That was the main finding from the 2015 Spring Job Outlook from the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers). According to a survey of 162 NACE members, employers expected to add 9.6% more college graduates this year over 2015. What’s more, business majors are among the most coveted graduates by employers.
The survey, which was conducted in February and March, was comprised of employers from over 20 industries across the United States. Respondents included big names like General Electric, Procter & Gamble, EXXON Mobil, KPMG, DuPont, and ARAMARK.
OVER HALF OF EMPLOYERS INCREASING THEIR HIRING
How good will 2015 graduates have it? When it comes to hiring plans, 55.9% of respondents expected to increase graduate headcount, up 9.5% from their 2015 hiring projections made last fall. And this percentage is 7.5% higher than employer forecasts made at this time last year.
Job postings are also rising. In 2013-2014, employers averaged 99 job postings during the spring. Fast forward to today and that number has risen to 148, a 33% increase. Even better, the average number of applicants per posting for 2014-2015 is 23.4, down from 28.4 applicants in 2013-2014. That means with fewer applicants vying for positions, 2015 graduates have greater odds for landing a job.
Alas, the news isn’t entirely sunny for graduates. In fact, you could segment companies into have’s and have-not’s when it comes to hiring. For example, 32.2% of employers anticipated adding fewer graduates in 2015, up from the 7.7% projection made by employers for 2015 last fall. In other words, nearly a quarter of employers have pulled back on hiring in recent months, likely due to budget constraints, evolving strategies, and market shifts.
Surveyed employers were also more restrained in their plans for 2016. Just 35.8% anticipated hiring more graduates in the fall of 2015 – down from the 42.9% who intended to boost hiring during the fall of 2014. Another 45.6% indicated that graduate hiring would decrease or remain flat. In fact, companies were increasingly relying on internships to fill gaps or give graduates a tryout. For example, 15.6% of employers visited campus exclusively to enlist interns, up over five percent over the previous year. By the same measure, 7.5% of companies recruited strictly for full-time hires, down four percent from 2014. In addition, 56.9% used campus recruiting to fill their pipeline with both interns and full-time employees.
BACHELOR’S DEGREES AND ENGINEERING MAJORS TOP COMPANY WISH LISTS
Hiring Expectations By Degree
Think you need an advanced degree to get employers’ attention? In reality, you might be better off taking a job and returning to school later – at least in this economy. In NACE’s findings, Bachelor’s degrees are a hot commodity in 2015. 81.9% of survey respondents preferred a four-year degree in both their projected and actual hiring. What’s more, 98.7% of employers looking to hire listed a Bachelor’s among the degrees they were seeking. Compare that to an MBA or a Master’s degree, where projected hiring sits at 10.3% and 15.8% respectively (both down from the previous year).
Among majors, engineering continues to hold the highest esteem. 72.1% of employers surveyed – 111 – were targeting engineering majors in their recruiting efforts. However, business majors finished a close second at 68.2% (105), reinforcing the notion that a broad business curriculum greatly appeals to employers. Although companies pay lip service to the value of liberal arts, business was as popular as economics, communications, humanities, and social sciences were combined. With accounting majors calculated separately – and included on 50.6% of companies’ wish lists – you could even argue that business may be more popular than engineering.
So what are employers seeking from business majors? Just look at the career readiness competencies that NACE survey respondents cited. On a scale of one-to-five, where five represented “Absolutely Essential” and one indicated “Not Essential,” employers chose Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving as the top skill at a 4.7 average. Other top skills included teamwork (4.6), professional and work ethic (4.5), oral and written communication (4.4), ability to apply information technology (3.9), leadership (3.9), and career management (3.6).
To see NACE’s starting salaries for business majors in various disciplines, go to the next page.
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