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College Grads Must Work Even Harder to Find Jobs

College Grads Must Work Even Harder to Find Jobs

The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania

November 03, 2009

ALLENTOWN, Pa. _ College students graduating in December and May are likely to be the first in a generation to enter a job market featuring double-digit unemployment. That has colleges and universities across America scrambling this fall to revamp their career-placement offerings to help new grads land entry-level jobs.

Autumn is one of the crucial recruiting seasons, especially for students who want to find employment at Fortune 500 companies.

But the outlook for coming college graduates is decidedly grim. On top of a 22 percent decline in college-grad hiring last year, employers expect to chop those entry-level hires by an additional 7 percent this year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

“What we’re seeing is they’re really being cautious,” said NACE spokeswoman Andrea Koncz.

That dismal hiring forecast is even worse than hiring plans following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when hiring came to a virtual standstill. Average starting salaries for 2009 grads dropped 1.2 percent from the year before, to $48,633.

Those facts are why career counselors across the Lehigh Valley have worked to shift the mind-set of soon-to-be grads entering the work force. The basic message: You’ll have to bust your butt to land a job in this lousy job market.

“What students did years ago isn’t enough today,” said Amy Saul, director of career development at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. For example, today’s students are encouraged not only to participate in an internship program, but in two or three to boost their chances of being hired.

“Competition is much more fierce than it has been in the past for entry-level candidates,” she said.