When It Comes to Hiring, College Grads Are Entering the Best Job Market in 10 Years


This spring's college graduates will have something to celebrate besides earning their degree — they will be entering the best job market for graduates since the start of the Great Recession.

Fotolia_62322121_S.jpgAccording to a new survey from CareerBuilder, 67 percent of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year, up from 65 percent last year and the highest outlook since 2007. More than a third (37 percent) plan to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year, and 27 percent of employers hiring recent college graduates this year will pay a starting salary of $50,000 or more.

“In addition to an improving economy, we are beginning to see a rising number of retirements, which is creating more room for advancement and creating opportunities for entry-level candidates,” said Rosemary Haefner, Chief Human Resources Officer for CareerBuilder. “But just because there are vacancies doesn’t mean college students are always ready to fill them.”

Despite the improving job prospects for graduates, some employers are still concerned that new college grads may not be ready for the real world. Nearly one quarter (24 percent) don't feel that colleges and academic institutions are adequately preparing their students for the kinds of job roles needed within their organizations, an increase from 21 percent who felt that way last year.

Where employers feel that colleges fall short

And, employers were pretty specific about their concerns when they were asked where academic institutions fall short, citing these concerns:

  • 47 percent said there's too much emphasis on book learning instead of real-world learning
  • 39 percent said they need I workers with a blend of technical skills and those skills gained from liberal arts
  • 25 percent said that entry-level roles with their organizations are simply more complex today
  • 13 percent said that there's not enough focus by the colleges on internships
  • 13 percent said technology is changing too quickly for an academic environment to keep up
  • 11 percent felt that not enough students were graduating with the degrees their company needs

Skills that employers want from new grads

When asked to name which skills they think recent college graduates lack for the workplace, most of these employers cited interpersonal or people (52 percent) or problem-solving skills (48 percent). Other skills these employers stated include:

  • Leadership — 42 percent
  • Teamwork — 39 percent
  • Written communication — 37 percent
  • Oral communication — 37 percent
  • Creative thinking — 35 percent
  • Project management — 27 percent
  • Research and analysis — 17 percent
  • Math — 15 percent
  • Computer and technical — 14 percent

What the average grad makes right out of college

When it comes to pay, more than a third of employers who plan to hire recent college graduates this year (37 percent) will offer higher starting salaries than they did last year. More than half (53 percent) expect no change in salary offers, and 11 percent expect a decrease in starting salaries.

More than half of these employers (52 percent) say they will make offers to students before they graduate. Expected starting salaries for recent graduates break down as follows:

  • $50,000 and higher — 27 percent
  • $40,000 to less than $50,000 — 20 percent
  • $30,000 to less than $40,000 — 28 percent
  • Under $30,000 — 25 percent

Of course, these numbers are subject to change; the majority of employers (67 percent) say they are willing to negotiate salary offers when extending a job offer to a recent college graduate.

This national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder between Feb. 10 and March 17, 2016, and included a representative sample of 2,186 hiring managers and HR professionals in the private sector across industries and company sizes.


About The Author

John Hollon is Checkster's Vice President for Content. He is an award-winning journalist and nationally-recognized expert on leadership, talent management and smart workforce practices who previously was Vice President of Editorial and the founding editor of TLNT.com. Before that, John was Editor of Workforce Management magazine, the longest published HR and talent management publication in the U.S.