Sharpen Your Pencils: New Grad Hiring is on the Rise

November 20, 2014

Get out your No. 2 pencils, recruiters. You may be spending a lot more time recruiting students and recent graduates next year. According to a new study from Michigan State University, hiring for new graduates is expected to jump by 16% in 2015, compared to an increase of just 7% last year. This level of hiring for bachelor’s degrees hasn’t been seen since the dot-com frenzy of the 2000s.

Nearly 5,700 employers were surveyed and asked about their plans to hire students graduating in the spring of 2015. The results offer great news for students entering the job market, but for recruiters, 2015 is shaping up to be more chaotic and fast-paced.

Industries that are experiencing the biggest hiring increases

Where will all of this hiring take place? Information services leads the pack with a surge of 51% in expected hiring. This includes jobs with telecommunications, motion pictures, broadcasting and publishing companies. Of the eight industries the report analyzed, six report double-digit growth in hiring new grads.

student new grad hiring michigan state

Finance and insurance follows with 31% growth over last year. After years of cutbacks, this is a big upswing for hiring in the finance industry. Professional, business and scientific services expect a 24% increase, along with the government sector. The remaining industries all showed growth except for educational services.

Competition for talent rages on as top concern

You can probably relate to respondents’ #1 concern about the new college labor market – an increase in competition. As expected hiring increases, competition heightens along with it. The study found that, “Competition for qualified candidates is escalating to a degree rarely seen in the past ten years.” This year, large companies will target more than double the number of candidates they did in the previous year. In addition to increased competition, recruiting staff are stretched thin. Respondents shared they are often understaffed and find it difficult to maintain their company’s brand across core colleges.

The quality of recent grad hires is increasing

While the war for talent is far from over, there’s hope in the talent pools. Employers report seeing an increase in the quality of candidates. On a scale of 1 to 5, the average candidate rating of 3.2 is up from 2.8 last year, and 74% rated the new college labor market as good to excellent. When looking specifically at their own industry, 82% rated the market as very good to excellent.

The study recommends companies broaden their talent pools in order to find those qualified candidates and keep up with the high demand. Rather than having a narrow focus on the majors or experience required for a specific position, look for soft skills that can be applied across different roles, such as candidates who demonstrate they have a willingness to learn or possess strong communication skills.

Demand for hiring extends through the summer

Other findings in the report include a longer recruiting season, with companies recruiting through spring and summer. Without this normal downtime found in the academic calendar, recruiters will find it harder to keep up with hiring demand.

Increased talent competition, lack of resources and fast-paced hiring all paint a challenging landscape for sourcing graduates in 2015. But there are a number of things you can do to get ahead of the competition. Get tips for revolutionizing your student recruitment efforts in our eBook Student Recruitment 2.0.

Be on the look out for a full report from the university this month, with expanding data from 19 industries. More findings and background can be found in the preliminary report.

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