Survey: College grad job market is on the rebound in 2021

The job market for new college graduates is rebounding from the COVID-19-driven decline, according to a new survey.

Employers who had slowed recruiting during the pandemic have accelerated efforts to fill pressing hiring needs, says Phil Gardner, author of Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute annual Recruiting Trends survey and director of the institute.

“Add to this the historically high quit rate—and many employers are eager to find new talent,” Gardner says.

“This research is significant to employers and career services professionals nationally, as the scope and scale of this research is unmatched. Unlike many other sources, it is without bias because it is conducted following academic research requirements,” says Jeffrey Beavers, executive director for Michigan State’s Career Services Network within the Division of Student Affairs and Services.

“The insights are also significant, especially this year, as we seek to understand the post-COVID college labor market, and supply and demand of entry-level and early-career talent.”

While much of the report is positive, Gardner says employers are still working on hiring goals during ongoing uncertainty over supply chain problems, staffing issues, and concerns about future inflation.

One issue being resolved, according the survey, is that digitally enhanced recruiting—virtual and assisted by artificial intelligence—is here to stay.

“This shift will require more self-discipline and self-management of the recruiting process by students who will have to schedule their interviews, manage career fair appointments, and directly connect with employers,” Gardner says.

In addition to these notable findings, insights from the 2021 Collegiate Employment Research Institute annual Recruiting Trends survey, include:

  • Outlook for 2022 is the highest since the 2008 recession.
  • Among the top five sectors are health services, education services, agriculture, transportation, and construction.
  • Bachelor’s degree hiring is expected to be up 15%.
  • Master’s and MBA hiring appears to be weak and remains mostly at last year’s levels with 42% of employers planning to reduce hiring targets and 40% increasing those.
  • 53% of starting salaries will increase in 2021-2022.
  • 46% of employers are planning for new hires to work onsite and 28% are planning for hybrid.
  • On average, employers are conducting seven to eight interviews before making a single offer.
  • Nearly 30% of employers expect the tenure of their new hires made during the COVID-19 pandemic will be shorter than pre-COVID hires.

A complete summary of the report is available here.

Source: Terri Hughes-Lazzell for Michigan State University