College Grad’s Guide to Reality: Essential Reading for Those Trying to Entering the Workforce

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Congratulations! You’re a college graduate. On the one hand, it’s not going to be easy to find someone willing to pay you to go to work. On the other, at least you’re done paying—via tuition—for people to teach you and evaluate your work.

Here, some essential reading for newly degreed college grads—and also for people competing for openings with newly degreed grads:

First, some bad news, via USA Today:

Fewer than half of employers — 44% — plan to hire recent college grads in 2010, according to a CareerBuilder survey. That’s about the same as last year but down from 58% in 2008 and 79% in 2007. CareerBuilder is jointly owned by Tribune, McClatchy, Microsoft and USA TODAY parent Gannett. A separate poll from also found that fewer than half of employers (46%) plan to hire spring college grads for full-time positions this year….

Those fortunate enough to land jobs will make slightly less than their 2009 peers. The average salary offer for the Class of 2010 bachelor’s degree candidates is $47,673, a 1.7% drop from 2009, says the NCES.

Now, for the good news. Oh wait, actually, here’s some more bad news, via BusinessWeek:

“More so in the last year to 18 months than at any time, we have seen applicants from prior graduating classes looking for the kind of entry-level jobs we’re recruiting for,” said Dan Black, director of campus recruiting for Ernst & Young LLP, a professional-services firm headquartered in New York. “There are a lot more cohorts competing with each other: ‘09 with ‘10, probably ‘10 with ‘11.”

Unemployment among people under 25 years old was 19.6 percent in April, the highest level since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948.

OK, well finally, here’s some sort of good news from the WSJ:

In a survey conducted between February and April of 31,470 students from over 400 colleges and universities by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, just 25% of students who had applied for a job before graduation had secured one, with a median starting salary of $41,000. Still, that’s an improvement over 2009, when only 19.7% had found jobs by the same time.

It’s a little late to switch majors, so this may be moot if you got your B.A. in Sociology (or English, like me), but who has the best job prospects? Per the WSJ piece:

Accounting majors, for example, led the way in job prospects, with nearly 46% of them receiving job offers, followed by business majors, with 44% of them getting an offer, according to the NACE report. Computer science, engineering, and mathematics majors, had job offer rates between 39% and 43%.

What’s more, in fields like accounting, manufacturing, and professional services like consulting, recruiters say they are gearing up to hire more college seniors next year as the economy improves and consumers begin to spend.

Again, this is too late to be helpful if you’re already holding a degree, but WalletPop has a pair of posts on college majors: The 10 Most Profitable College Majors, and The 10 Lowest Paying College Majors. Who would have guessed that students majoring in social work, music, and drama wouldn’t be pulling in the big bucks?

Jim at Bargaineering has put together a very thoughtful, very helpful and comprehensive New Graduate Guide, a series of posts that includes primers on how to find your first apartment, decoding your paycheck (if you’re lucky enough to have one, of course), and tips from readers like:

Don’t use credit cards unless you can pay them off each month IN FULL. It’s easy to get sucked into buy now, pay later, so unless you actually have the money to pay off the CC when the bills comes in, don’t use it.

Speaking of credit, Kiplinger offers three tips for grads hoping to establish credit wisely. For example:

Don’t apply for too much credit at once. You’ll hurt your credit score if you apply for too many cards in a short period of time. Applying for the same type of credit also can drag down your score because lenders like to see that you have experience managing different types of accounts. And having several credit cards in your wallet will increase the temptation to spend — and go into debt.

Finally, here’s some helpful info for the people who might really be in need of a morale boost right now: the parents who put their kids through college, and who now face the prospect of those kids moving back into the house. Here’s a snippet of the tongue-in-cheek “Your New College Graduate: A Parent’s Guide,” in
The New Yorker:

What do I feed my college graduate?
Most college graduates are vegetarians and will become cranky or upset if offered meat. They also have irregular eating habits. Most prefer to skip family meals, but if you stock the fridge and the cabinets with snacks they will usually be able to find them on their own.

Why is my college graduate so fussy?
It’s normal for college graduates to be fussy. It just means that they feel frightened, vulnerable, or confused. You can usually get to the root of the problem by consulting this checklist:

Did somebody suggest that he “look for work”? Yes / No

Did the subject of graduate school “come up”? Yes / No

Has he been to a scary job interview? Yes / No

Did he see a scary LSAT book? Yes / No

Did his rock band “not get signed”? Yes / No

Unemployment by the Numbers