CWS 3.0: May 22, 2013

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New Recruits in the War for Talent

With college graduation season upon us, it’s time to think about new graduates’ opportunities and how many ways buyers and staffing firms can serve as a conduit for new graduates to enter the workforce. Whether it is through an intern program, a temporary job, or a temp-to-perm arrangement that gets the graduate’s foot in the door, in today’s marketplace buyers and staffing firms can have a huge impact on a new college graduate’s long-term prospects. This next generation of workers is also a prime resource for companies in the present and future war for talent.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, more than half of U.S. employers require an associates degree or higher for their positions, and 44 percent require a bachelor’s degree. In fact, many jobs that were previously available to high school graduates are now held by college graduates. The economic crisis created a shortage of jobs available to college graduates, driving them to accept jobs typically requiring a high school education. This has changed company expectations upward in the level of education expected for certain jobs, for better or worse.

What grads can expect. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported employers will hire only slightly more graduates than in 2012 and fewer than previously projected. The good news is one quarter of employers will offer new grads higher starting salaries than in 2012.

According to NACE, companies typically take an average of 24.2 days to extend an offer to new college graduates. This timeframe has remained roughly the same since 2010. The average starting salary for a recent grad with a bachelor’s degree is up a bit. Starting salaries for those with a bachelor’s degree in education are seeing the highest increase at 4.5 percent. However, only 25 percent of companies will offer a new graduate $50,000 or more. Engineering bachelor’s degrees continue to produce the highest paid graduates in general; a petroleum engineering degree commands an average starting salary close to six figures.

Whos in demand? The top five college majors companies compete for are business, computer and information sciences, engineering, health professions and related clinical sciences, and engineering technologies, in that order. It makes sense then that the top industries that are looking for recent graduates include information technology, financial services and healthcare. IT and financial services companies are most likely to pursue college recruits prior to graduation, according to the Careerbuilder survey.

But what about other majors? Grads with other degrees can succeed in customer service or sales roles, which are great starting points. These recruits can handle these critical roles that directly generate revenue and provide front line support to the organization as a whole. Typically these are high visibility entry-level jobs that can segue into bigger opportunities for the right person. Engage them on a contingent basis so that both parties benefit from a try and buy strategy.

In this war for talent, companies need to be creative in how they win talent — and where they look for them. Use a forward-thinking strategy to create an intern program, a temporary job opportunity, or temp to perm hire strategy to engage recent college graduates and get a head start in your war for talent. 

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