Business and accounting degrees still in demand as job front for grads improves

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The news on the job front for the latest crop of college graduates is better than last year but still not at the level of the heady pre-recession days.

A recent survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, an organization that connects campus recruiting and career services professionals, shows that companies that recruit on campus plan to increase their hiring of new graduates by 10.2 percent this year, up from the 9.5 percent hiring increase that was initially projected for the class of 2012 last September.

NACE says it is the second consecutive year that employers have revised their hiring expectations upward.

College career services officers say they’ve seen an uptick in the employment numbers for graduating students this season.

“Things are looking much more promising for 2012 graduates,” Gillian Steele, managing director of DePaul University’s Career Center tells eFinancialCareers. “The trends continue as far as more job postings now than we’ve seen for a long time."

She says the college has had the highest number of job postings in five years. Graduates with degrees in professional services such as accounting, finance and banking as well as health, social and human services are the most sought after.

According to Steele, two of the top seven degrees in demand – business and accounting – are business degrees. The others include computer science, physical science, communications and social sciences.

She adds that the three industries that showed the largest growth in job postings on the DePaul campus are health care, social and human services, and the financial services sector, particularly accounting, finance and banking.

According to Recruiting Trends 2011-12, accounting, finance and supply chain management are expected to do well this year.

Damian Zikakis, director of career development at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, says 85 percent of those graduating with bachelor’s degrees this spring had at least one job offer while 72 percent of graduating MBAs had a job offer. He notes that while the numbers are up from last year, they are still not at pre-recession levels.

“I think we’ve seen a pick up in the number of employers coming to campus to interview,” Zikakis tells eFinancialCareers. “But I would definitely agree with the opinion that the economy is still in recovery stage. We hope our numbers are even better next year.”

In addition to the relatively fragile economic recovery, the job search for the new college grads is complicated by a couple of factors. For one thing, many will have to compete with graduates from previous years, a significant number of who have either been unemployed or under employed.

"Having a degree with a specific skill makes it much easier to land a job. It makes it easier for the employer to see how they fit into the organization, says Zikakis. "I think for skilled positions like accounting, where they have to know certain rules, that’s a slam dunk.”

Steele says that rather than just apply for jobs online, recent college grads searching for work should network through alumni groups and meet with as many hiring managers as possible. “We know that generally people who have 20 to 30 conversations with potential hiring managers will find something,” she says.

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