​New college job forecast shows good news for the Class of 2016

college forecast

In a new survey from CareerBuilder, 67 percent of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year -- the highest outlook since 2007.

If you're a soon-to-be college graduate, you might be having mixed emotions right now. It's exciting to think that not only are you done with school forever, but that the world is at your fingertips. Without school to go back to, you're now free to backpack around Europe, join the Peace Corps or finally binge-watch everything in your Netflix queue. Eventually, however, you will need to get a job (assuming you don't win the lottery, inherit a great fortune or marry into the Kardashian family first). And that can be terrifying.

Fortunately for this year's graduates, the prospects of getting a job are brighter than in previous years. According 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) will offer higher pay than last year, and 28 percent will pay $50,000 or more.

Skills that make you stand out

Want to stand apart from other job candidates? When writing cover letters and interviewing with potential employers, emphasize your interpersonal and people skills, skills 52 percent of employers think recent college graduates lack for the workplace. Other skills employers say recent college graduates lack the most include:

  • Problem-solving skills: 48 percent
  • Leadership: 42 percent
  • Teamwork: 39 percent
  • Written communication: 37 percent
  • Oral communication: 37 percent
  • Creative thinking: 35 percent
  • Project management: 27 percent

Hot areas for hiring
When it comes to the types of jobs for which employers will be hiring new grads, information technology (27 percent) and customer service jobs (26 percent) top the list. There will also be plenty of opportunities in finance/accounting (19 percent), business development (19 percent) and sales (17 percent).

Salary expectations for recent grads

Lucky for this year's graduates, employers are feeling pretty generous when it comes to entry-level paychecks: 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.

Expected starting salaries for recent graduates break down as follows:

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

Just because it's your first offer, don't feel like you have to take it: The majority of employers (67 percent) say they are willing to negotiate salary offers for recent college graduates.

7 job search tips for new grads

The one thing they don't teach in college is how to find that first job. Follow these tips to increase your chances of getting your first post-college job.

  1. Use your school's career services office: Even if you've visited your campus's career services office, chances are you haven't taken full advantage of it. Search for jobs and internship opportunities, learn about job fairs, meet with recruiters and get job search advice from the professionals who work there.
  2. Join talent networks: Are there companies you're interested in working for? Most have talent networks you can join to learn about new positions that may be a fit for your skills and interests.
  3. Follow companies on social media: Many companies today advertise jobs and engage with job seekers on social media. If there are companies you're interested in, follow them on social media and try engaging with them on those platforms. (And while you're at it, make your own social media profiles "employer-friendly." More and more employers check up on would-be employees on social media, so make sure your own social media pages don't include anything you wouldn't want a potential employer to see.)
  4. Join professional associations: Look for local chapters of professional associations dedicated to the occupations and areas in which you majored or completed studies. Not only are professional associations a great networking opportunity; they may also have an exclusive job posting board or directory of member companies you can access. Most associations also offer student discounts or discounts for the unemployed.
  5. Join your college's alumni association: By joining your college's alumni network, you will have numerous opportunities to expand your professional network and meet others who can give you advice and refer you for jobs.
  6. Keep your eye on job boards: Job boards remain one of the most successful resources for finding jobs. Not only can you narrow your search for jobs by keyword, industry, experience level and location, you can also sign up for job alerts to get job postings that fit your interests delivered right to your email inbox.
  7. Attend job fairs: A job fair is not only a good opportunity to learn about different companies and available positions; it's also a great opportunity to practice your elevator pitch and gain confidence in speaking with recruiters.

Ready to get started? See which companies are hiring this month!