How new grads can land a job after college, even as employers cut back on Class of 2024 hires

Personal Finance

Those armed with a newly minted diploma are entering a job market that looks a little less promising than it did one year ago.

Employers plan to hire about 5.8% fewer new college graduates from this year’s class than they hired from the Class of 2023, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Some companies, in industries such as chemical manufacturing, finance, insurance and real estate, have pulled back after scaling up last year, according to NACE. The decline follows a historic hiring boom in the aftermath of the pandemic, the report found, suggesting that this year’s dip reflects a return to “normal” hiring plans. 

However, there are still pockets of growth, mainly in miscellaneous manufacturing, utilities and professional services, NACE also found.

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In the current job market, Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, advises new grads to “stay positive and optimistic.”

While entering the real world without an offer on the table can be daunting, “they can upskill or pick up a side hustle in the meantime, continue to search and be persistent,” she said.

Given continuing education courses, online classes, certification programs and boot camps, there are more opportunities for young people just entering the workforce to ramp up their expertise.

With many companies continuing to offer the flexibility of hybrid work, there is also the added advantage of being able to cast a wider net, which can work in the favor of someone just starting out.

“In terms of the quality and quantity, they can pursue jobs beyond the constraints of a particular zip code,” Salemi said.

Top tips for job seekers

Recent or soon-to-be grads can also stay ahead of their competition by networking with parents, professors, family friends, classmates, neighbors, community groups and an extensive alumni network, both in person and on platforms like LinkedIn, according to Ivan Misner, the founder of business networking organization BNI.com.

“Sometimes, even weak ties can lead to valuable job referrals,” he said.

But first, clean up your online presence, even on platforms you consider more for fun than networking, Misner cautioned.

“Take down those pictures of you partying at a frat house,” he said. “Potential employers review online profiles, so make sure yours reflects positively on you — and you don’t want to make your network look bad if they recommend you.”

Once you have a foot in the door, offer to do a “working interview,” he advised, to best showcase your skills and abilities.

“Say, ‘if there is a project, bring me in, let me show you what I can do'” — that strategy works because very few people offer to do this, Misner said. “That makes you stand out and they are going to remember you.”

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