Most Employers Don’t Care What School Recent Grads Attended

Posted April 19, 2013 by
Brent Rasmussen of Careerbuilder

Brent Rasmussen of Careerbuilder

The college graduating class of 2013 will enter a stronger job market than in the years immediately following the recession; however, young professionals entering high-skill fields may have a decided advantage, according to a new study. More than half (53 percent) of U.S. employers plan to hire recent college graduates in 2013, on par with 2012 (54 percent) and up significantly from 46 percent in 2011 and 44 percent in 2010.

The nationwide survey—conducted online by Harris Interactive© from February 11 to March 6, 2013— included more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Employers in industries that generally demand more high-skill workers are also more likely to recruit recent college graduates. According to the survey, information technology employers rank ahead of all industries with 65 percent of hiring managers and human resources professionals planning to hire recent graduates. They are followed by financial services employers (63 percent) and health care employers (56 percent). Additionally, the survey found that employers in IT and financial services are the most likely to recruit workers for hard-to-fill jobs (37 percent, each) prior to graduation.

“New college graduates are facing a better employment situation this year, but the number of employers planning to recruit them are still trailing pre-recession estimates by more than 20 percentage points,” said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. “The market remains highly competitive. Those graduating with niche or technical skill sets will be in a better position to find more opportunities in higher-paying jobs.”

Starting Salaries for College Graduates

Of employers who plan to hire recent college graduates, 27 percent expect to offer higher starting salaries than they did in 2012 with nearly half reporting that starting salaries will range between $30,000 and $49,999, but strong percentages plan to extend offers at the low and high ends of the pay scale as well:

  • Less than $30,000 — 25 percent
  • $30,000 to less than $40,000 — 29 percent
  • $40,000 to less than $50,000 — 20 percent
  • $50,000 and higher — 25 percent

Top Job Areas for College Graduates

Recruiters will be primarily looking for recent college graduates to fill two types of jobs: front-line customer and client facing roles such as customer service and sales, and roles that require specific technical knowledge or hard skills, such as IT, finance or health care.

  • IT — 26 percent (employers recruiting for jobs in this role)
  • Customer service — 19 percent
  • Finance/accounting — 16 percent
  • Sales — 16 percent
  • Business development — 15 percent
  • Health care — 12 percent

Does the Name of the College or University Influence Employers’ Hiring Decisions? 

While the name of the institution will not matter to a majority of hiring managers and human resource professionals, a notable percentage report they may be influenced by the name of the school. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of hiring managers said they are more likely to hire a recent graduate who went to a more prestigious school. Similarly, one fifth of employers said they are more likely to hire someone who is a fellow alumna or alumnus.

Job Hunting Tips for Recent College Graduates from

  • Highlight relevant “non-work” experience. The majority of employers agree that internships are the most common form of relevant experience (70 percent), and many also consider volunteer work (46 percent), involvement in school organizations (36 percent), relevant class work such as research projects or term papers (31 percent), and fraternity or sorority leadership (21 percent) as relevant experience. If positioned to match requirements on the job listing, such information can make a difference.
  • Do your homework on the company. The most common reasons employers pass on recent college graduates all have to do with candidates’ lack of preparedness or disinterest in the company, such as: candidate didn’t know anything about the company (20 percent); candidate seemed bored (19 percent); candidate didn’t ask questions (19 percent).
  • Network early and often. More than one quarter (27 percent) of employers recruit candidates for hard-to-fill jobs before graduation. Expected graduates can get a leg up on their peers by attending campus career fairs, preparing resumes early, following company career pages on social media or joining a College Talent Network (custom recruitment sites for college students or recent graduates seeking employment at a specific organization).

Totals may not equal 100 percent due to rounding.

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