Video: Rosy job market for college grads

NBC News with Brian Williams
By Kevin Tibbles Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/17/2005 7:36:29 PM ET 2005-06-17T23:36:29

Nicole Girouard was pounding the pavement at a job fair Friday in Connecticut, armed with a stack of résumés and a new degree in business administration.

“I was excited driving here,” says Girouard, “I'm nervous, as you can tell. It's intimidating too.”

But compared with recent years, America's 1.35 million new college graduates are having an easier time of it.

“It's been a good job market for grads,” says John Challenger, CEO of the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.  “[It's] up 13 percent over last year. The last three years have been very rough.”

The hottest job sectors, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers:

  • Engineering
  • Accounting and finance
  • Anything to do with computers
  • Nursing
  • Teaching

Beyond a stronger economy, experts say there's another reason the job market looks rosier for this year's grads. In part, they can thank the baby-boom generation.

“The leading edge of the boomers now are starting to retire,” explains Challenger. “Companies don't want to be caught in the next decade without enough people in the pipeline. They're hiring more grads because of it this year.”

And the money may be a little better too. According to NACE, of almost half the employers surveyed, 47 percent plan to pay more while 49 percent plan to maintain salaries at last year's levels.

There is one troubling point. The Economic Policy Institute reports that a survey of graduates who've been in the workforce a few years say fewer employers are offering medical benefits.

This year there may be more jobs, but it's competitive out there and grads will need to sell themselves.

“They need to be able to back up what's on their resume,” says Amy Schwabero, who works as a recruiter for On-Campus Resources in Chicago. “They need to be able to talk about the activities, the projects, the leadership roles.”

By the end of the day, Nicole Girouard had landed one job interview.

“I handed out about 10 résumés,” says a somewhat relieved Girouard. “I spoke with the representatives from the companies. It seems a little more promising now.”

For this year's graduate, it’s time to hang up the mortar board and roll up the sleeves.

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