How new grads can better their odds of landing a job even as employers cut back on college hires

Personal finance

The outlook for newly minted graduates doesn’t look as good as it once did.

Employers plan to hire about 4% more new college graduates from this year’s class than they hired from the Class of 2022, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

However, that’s down significantly from earlier projections: In the fall, employers said they would boost hiring roughly 15% year over year. 

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Tech companies, in particular, have dramatically scaled back on their college hires, the NACE report found.

Year to date, job cuts are up nearly 400% from the same period a year ago, led by layoffs in the tech sector, according to another recent report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

As those layoffs mount, job openings have also begun to fall. Available positions in February declined to below 10 million for the first time since May 2021, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“We know companies are approaching 2023 with caution, though the economy is still creating jobs,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Start job hunting early

As a result, many college seniors are jumping on opportunities: 62% have already accepted their first job after college, compared to only 20% from the Class of 2022 at this time last year, according to a report by LaSalle Network.  

Soon-to-be graduates “want to have something hat in hand more than before,” said LaSalle Network CEO Tom Gimbel. 

His advice: “College seniors should be interviewing with as many companies that they can and not worry about the industry or location.”

“The earlier you start planning the more options you have,” he said.

Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, suggests setting up job alerts to find openings as they become available and aim to apply within 24 hours.

But first, take a few minutes to craft a cover letter, tailor the executive summary and reorder your bullets to mirror the job description, she said. For example, “if the first line item is about travel, highlight that you studied abroad.”  

Then, do one last review to catch any typos or grammatical errors before hitting send.

And don’t just apply online, cautioned Barbara Safani, president of Career Solvers in New York.

Recent or soon-to-be grads can also stay ahead of their competition by networking with parents, professors, family friends, classmates and an extensive alumni network. “Attend campus career fairs to get a chance to talk to employers face to face,” she said.

“Be present; don’t hide behind a screen.”

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