Survey warns grads of tight job market

A weak job market could make it difficult for recent college graduates to get hired, according to a report.


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- College students who plan on graduating this year may find it more difficult to obtain entry-level positions than originally expected amid a tighter job market, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The global outplacement consultancy said last week's government report on the nation's job growth could make it tough for this year's estimated 1.3 million college graduates to get hired.

According to the Labor Department, the economy created 97,000 jobs in February, the weakest in two years, which was down from a revised 146,000 gain in January.

Many of the jobs added were in lower-paying health care occupations and the food service industry. The professional and business services industry saw net growth of 29,000 new jobs; however, 39 percent of those were in "services to buildings and dwellings," which include janitorial, landscaping, exterminating, pest control and upholstering, the Labor Department said.

According to Challenger's data on job-cut announcements, February also saw the largest jump in job losses in five months, surging 33 percent.

Before the recent slowdown, the job market for college graduates was expected to be strong. Last September, a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed employers had planned to increase hiring among new college graduates by 17.4 percent

However, a number of recent studies have shown a downward trend in hiring new employees. A survey of executives of the nation's largest companies found that two out of three CEOs saw no change or decreased hiring. The number of execs who predict more hiring over the next six months fell to 33 percent from 37 percent in the previous survey, Challenger said.

Job seekers may also be affected by comments from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who warned that the economy could fall into recession by the end of 2007.

"Weak job news and Alan Greenspan setting the odds of a recession at 33 percent can shake a company's confidence and compel them to hold off on hiring plans," John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., said in a statement.

Need a job? Kiss spring break goodbye

Challenger noted that students may want to cancel plans to go on vacation for spring break and instead use the time to get a jump start on their job search.

College students who plan to stay on campus or at home for their spring breaks should contact hiring managers and prospective employers, especially if the students are going to be in a city where they plan to work.

Job seekers should start asking family and family friends about job opportunities now, which Challenger says is the best source for job leads and network building.

Challenger also recommended students create a professional-looking profile on social networking sites such as News Corp.'s (down $0.06 to $23.71, Charts) MySpace or Facebook.

Employers are starting to search for candidates online and may find the applicant's site. Hiring managers may not want to extend a job offer if the employers do not like what they see.

"Unfortunately, many students are sharing things with their peers [on social networking sites] that may not make a good impression on a prospective employer," Challenger said.

Students should also consider posting their rsum and blog about their involvement in the community and other interests and activities to make a possible connection with a hiring executive, Challenger said.

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.