Recessionary College Recruiting: Set Up for Success

 -  5/2/09

This year’s college seniors are feeling the effects of the economy on their job prospects. As the talent pool expands, organizations can employ a number of tactics to ensure they find â€" and retain â€" the best talent from the class

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Across nearly every industry, competition to attract the best and brightest has intensified, with the global market creating even more opportunities for organizations and job seekers.

Senior undergraduate Lawrence Ryoo said the recession and the subsequent soft job market are on college students’ minds daily. Although he was one of the lucky ones who got a job offer in the fall, many of his friends still are struggling to line up employment. “I don’t think [my classmates] have any idea what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s just so hard to predict.”

Ryoo, a business administration major at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, started his job search early — in the summer of 2008 — because he said he knew the job market “was tough already.”

After a full year of recessionary conditions, experts are now flirting with the word “depression,” and students are feeling the effects of the down economy on the entry-level job market. With an increasing number of heads to choose from, talent managers are working to distinguish the best candidates from mounds of resumes.

State of the Job Search

According to Tim Stiles, associate director of UNC Career Services, students can expect longer job searches and fewer offers. “You’re probably going to see fewer students with multiple offers and many students happy they have one,” Stiles said. In addition, while it generally takes students about three to four months to find employment in a good economy, he said it could take as long as six months now.

Indeed, the job market is challenging for all demographics. In early April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the number of unemployed persons reached 13.2 million, which accounts for 8.5 percent of the population. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon: According to a recent National Association for Business Economics survey, experts expect the economy to continue to shrink throughout 2009.

Due to these economic conditions, many employers have been forced to change how they recruit upcoming college graduates such as Ryoo.

Mark Howard, university relations manager for Intuit, said he has noticed a significant drop in the number of employers attending career fairs.

“We are one of the dwindling numbers of recruiters or companies that are still on campus,” he said. “Even at some of the software engineering fairs I’ve been to, [which is currently a stronger area in the job market], the tables [used to be] 2 feet apart and now they’re more like 7 or 8 feet apart.”

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