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Job prospects for new college grads abound, according to a new survey

Mary Lorenz | May 17, 2018

college hiring 2018

It’s a good time to be a new college grad, according to CareerBuilder’s latest survey.

Congratulations! You’re a college graduate! No more homework! No more 8 a.m. classes. No more cramming for exams, writing papers or sitting through three-hour lectures. Feels good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that feeling won’t last.

Because now, instead of worrying about how you’ll ever write 10 pages about the philosophy of Nietzsche, you get to worry about how you’ll pay rent, pay for groceries and pay off all your student loans. Cool stuff, huh?

Well, don’t start panicking just yet. Because it just so happens that your job prospects are looking pretty good this year: According to a new CareerBuilder study, 80 percent of employers plan to hire recent college graduates this year.

Want more good news? The pay is pretty good, too. Nearly half of employers plan to pay new grads higher starting salaries than in previous years. Expected starting salaries for recent college graduates break down as follows:

  • Under $30,000: 21 percent
  • $30,000 to less than $40,000: 23 percent
  • $40,000 to less than $50,000: 22 percent
  • $50,000 and higher: 33 percent

The hottest industries and most in-demand majors

While it’s nice to know that employers are hiring, it probably helps to know what they’re looking for and which roles they’re looking to fill. According to the survey, employers hiring recent college graduates in 2018 say they’re hiring the most in the following areas:

What’s your major? The answer could increase your chances of getting your foot in the door at certain companies. According to the survey, employers hiring recent college graduates this year say the following majors are the most in-demand at their firms:

  • Business: 35 percent
  • Engineering: 22 percent
  • Computer and information sciences: 18 percent
  • Engineering technologies: 13 percent
  • Communications technologies: 11 percent
  • Health professions and related clinical sciences: 11 percent
  • Math and statistics: 9 percent
  • Science technologies: 7 percent
  • Mechanic and repair technologies: 6 percent
  • Public administration and social services: 6 percent
  • Construction trades: 6 percent
  • Communication and journalism: 5 percent
  • Education: 5 percent
  • Transportation and materials moving: 5 percent
  • Liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities: 5 percent

Tips for landing your first job out of college

In the survey, employers discussed the behaviors that set recent college graduates apart during the hiring process and helped them land the job.

  1. Write a cover letter. Nearly a third of employers (31 percent) said half of recent college graduates didn’t bother sending a cover letter with the application. As a new grad with little to no work experience, you probably have a pretty bare resume. A cover letter puts more context around your resume and gives you the opportunity to explain why you’d make the best candidate. Use these tips for writing a strong cover letter.
  2. Send a thank-you note. In the past year, 37 percent of employers said over half of college graduates didn’t send a thank-you note after the interview. Not only does writing a thank-you note help reinforce your enthusiasm for the job and the company, it makes you stand out from the other job candidates.
  3. Do your homework. More than a third of employers (35 percent) said most candidates didn’t know anything about the company. If you don’t know anything about the company at which you’re interviewing, it gives the hiring manager the impression that you don’t care about the job - you just want to get a paycheck. Go the extra mile by doing a little research before the interview. Not only will it impress the hiring manager, it will help YOU decide if this is the right company for you after all.
  4. Ask questions. Twenty-nine percent of employers said the majority of new college grads didn’t ask any questions during the interview. Not only does asking questions signify that you’re interested in the position and eager to learn about the company, it helps you make a more informed decision for yourself.
  5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Nearly 3 in 4 employers are willing to negotiate salary offers with new college graduates. Negotiating salary can be tricky, however, so learn what NOT to do when negotiating an offer.

Get more tips for nailing your first job interview.