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Recent College Grads and the Tough Search for Employment in 2011

A new poll from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows a job market so tough for recent college graduates that their perceived strengths and weaknesses rank the same.

When asked what advantages recent college graduates have in the hunt for employment, 30% of HR professionals responded, “they are seeking entry-level positions and that is what we are hiring for.”

Unsurprising to many following the economy, the same number of HR professionals responded that they are not hiring for entry-level positions, leaving the recent college graduate at a notable disadvantage. While their comfort with gadgets earns the top spot among the list of advantages — 34% of HR professionals said recent college grads are more likely to be viewed as highly tech savvy — it’s often not enough to secure employment.


Almost four in 10 polled (37%) said 2011 college graduates “are more likely to be under-qualified for the jobs they apply for.” Add to the situation the 21% of HR professionals who said their company has limited resources to train recent college graduates, and the employment outlook grows bleaker.


“Networking is key in 2011,” said Evren Esen, manager, Survey Research Center at SHRM. “HR professionals recommend recent graduates and those soon to graduate utilize their university career center programs and official graduate recruiting channels. In addition, joining a membership association in the field graduates want to enter can help in the form of networking and mentoring opportunities.”


For those lucky enough to land employment, the jobs were “mostly full-time” permanent positions, said 76% of HR professionals polled. Six percent were mostly temporary or contract positions while another 6% were mostly part-time positions. Twelve percent were a mix of all positions.


College graduates from top colleges and universities are at an advantage, noted 22% of HR professionals polled, who said that in 2011, the economic climate has made it easy to hire such graduates. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) of HR professionals confirmed what many job seekers already know — the economic climate has increased the competition for jobs among graduates in 2011.


Will things change when the economy turns around? A bit. Roughly 64% of HR professionals said their company will target 2011 university and college graduates to a “small extent” as the economy improves. Only 5% will target hiring of new graduates to a “large extent” while 18% will do so to “some extent.” Fourteen percent of HR professionals said they “will not hire” new graduates in 2011.


Surveyed were 348 randomly selected HR professionals from SHRM’s membership. The poll was fielded late April through mid-May 2011.