According to a 2011 survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the average salary offer for a 2011 graduate will be $50,034, which represents a 3.5 percent increase over graduates' starting salaries in 2010. In addition, there was a 13.5 percent jump from 2010 to 2011 in the number of hiring managers who are expecting to recruit recent grads.
According to the survey, the jobs where the most growth is anticipated are in public and private accounting, consulting, financial/treasury analysis, sales, investment banking, and management trainee positions.
Hopefully the trend toward more opportunities for recent college grads will continue, but what can a current college student do to help optimize their chances of landing a job after college? Here are some recommendations.
- Start looking for internships early. Internships (paid and voluntary) are a great way to try out a profession or industry and make inroads with decision makers who may be able to help you when you start applying for full-time positions. Keep in mind that it's important to have some downtime during the winter and summer breaks to recharge your academic batteries, but sourcing some relevant internships during that downtime is also important.
- Visit your career services office. Some students don't visit their career services office until their senior year. Others never even set foot in the office. It's never too early to at least make an introduction. Many colleges and universities have strong ties with their local community for internships and full-time job placements. In addition, the on-site counselors can help students craft their first resume, or prepare for their first interview. These services are included in your college tuition and would cost hundreds of dollars if purchased privately.
- Reach out to college alumni. Your college alumni association may be one of the most powerful affinity groups you will ever be a part of. People who went to the same school, lived in the same dorm, were part of the same fraternity, etc. are more likely to help each other even if they attended the school during different decades or never crossed paths on campus. Check out your school's alumni group (generally listed on the college's website) and create a plan to reach out to them.
- Catch the social media bug. Tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have made it easier than ever to find people that may be able to help you in your search. Many companies have their own pages across multiple social media platforms and savvy job seekers are leveraging these resources to create engaging conversations and get found online. Start following some of your favorite companies now, before graduation day. You may just open up a dialog with a company you would love to work for, well before you don your cap and gown on graduation day.