Job-hunters face more prospects with jump in on-campus recruiting

By Chris Ross

[img id=”80153″ align=”alignleft”] Increased recruiting and hiring efforts on the University of Chicago’s campus, coupled with new initiatives by Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS), suggest that the graduating class of 2007 may have some of the best employment prospects of recent years.

The number of full-time employment opportunities offered through the U of C has increased 32 percent from the fall of 2005 to the fall of 2006, said Lucy Gee, associate director of employer relations at CAPS.

These numbers reflect an increased nationwide demand for recent college graduates. Employers expect to hire 17.4 percent more new college graduates in 2006–2007 than in 2005–2006, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) “Job Outlook 2007 Fall Preview Survey.”

Company growth and an aging workforce nearing retirement were the two most frequent reasons employers cited for increased hiring in the NACE report. In addition, CAPS has instituted a series of new strategies to help U of C graduates market themselves.

“In order to help prepare our students for the increase in employers, we instituted several all-day résumé review days and practice interview days, in addition to the existing walk-in hours and the practice interview program,” Gee said.

In the past two years, CAPS had focused development efforts on reaching out to alumni to create new recruiting opportunities in popular fields such as law, biotechnology, public policy, and marketing.

Teach For America (TFA) doubled its time spent recruiting at the U of C last year and continued that growth for the class of 2007.

Last year, eight percent of Chicago’s senior class applied for positions at the TFA program.

“We are well on pace to exceed that number this year,” said Josh Anderson, TFA’s Midwest recruitment director. “Our major constraint is: Can we get enough highly qualified outstanding college graduates? Recruitment is our constraint.”

As with many employers, TFA’s escalated efforts mirror a nationwide push toward bringing dedicated and excited graduates into the workforce; the organization has stepped up recruitment at elite universities across the country.Still, the increased demand for new college graduates may not translate into a better job market for students whose programs don’t lend themselves to immediate employment.

Lixian Hantover, a fourth-year Cinema and Media Studies major, says she has been working independently to find a job after graduation, which has involved making inquiries and sending out her résumé.“It’s hard because some nonprofits or organizations you want to work for just may not have positions open,” Hantover said. “People applying for jobs in finance, consulting, marketing, they’re going to have an easier time getting employed.”

Hantover said she hoped the CAPS office would develop relationships with alumni contacts involved in expanding and popular fields at nonprofit organizations and in sectors where new college graduates typically have difficulty getting hired.

According to the 2007 NACE report, the service sector expects to experience the largest employment increase among college graduates this year, with a predicted growth of 19.8 percent, followed closely by manufacturing. Government and nonprofit employers plan to increase college hires by nine percent.

By region, employers in the South project the highest hiring increase, with the job market ballooning by 25.5 percent, followed by the West’s projected 23 percent increase. Employers in the Midwest expect a relatively smaller 10 percent jump in opportunities for this year’s graduates.