2016 May Be the Best Job Market Yet for New Graduates

Are you getting ready to launch into your final semester of college? Are you excited but a little apprehensive about the opportunities that may (or may not) be waiting for you after you graduate? Are you optimistic about the future but also concerned about your readiness for the “real world”? You’re not alone. But for you and for millions of others in a similar state, we have some good news. The summer 2016 job market may be the best since the downturn in 2008: that means more opportunities and more companies looking to hire new grads. The sunny outlook was released as part of the results of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) annual survey-based study, which is designed to gather and analyze employer perceptions of the landscape facing new graduates. Survey respondents are asked to rate two metrics: their own hiring plans for the year and their personal perception of the opportunities available to new candidates. And this year, responses on both counts are positive and promising. Employers report an 11 percent increase in the new positions they expect to offer to entry-level candidates this year. By comparison, last year’s survey predicted a 10-percent increase. And in this year’s study, 42 percent of employer respondents rated the job market as good or excellent, compared to only 18 percent last year.

Employer Perceptions and Why They Matter

If you’re a new or soon-to-be graduate, you may be wondering what these numbers mean to you. These are broad strokes, for sure, and they represent only one metric, or indicator of job market health. But they suggest a high level of optimism from the professionals you’re going want to impress. If these people feel good about the future of the economy, you should feel good too. And if they’re reporting plans to expand their companies, continue existing growth, replace departing retirees with fresh faces, or build a strong internal hiring pipeline, that’s positive news for candidates like you. The search for a stable, well-paying position right out of college can be hard, and it gets harder when you’re facing stiff competition or only one open position for every ten applicants. But the budget crunches and contractions that hampered employment growth in 2008 appear to be behind us, and some of the strongest growth and expansion seems to be taking place in high wage industries.

Don’t Get Comfortable Just Yet

Employers may expect to provide more opportunities in 2016, and the market may be more welcoming to new graduates than it has been in past, but it’s never a great idea to let go and count on circumstances or broad national trends to launch you into your new career. You’ll still need to keep studying hard, taking on internships, making connections, and performing your own research as you count down your last days in the classroom. Don’t start taking it easy right at this critical juncture in your career—the transition from school to work. You can start applying for jobs now, or you can look for meaningful PAID internships in your field for the upcoming summer, or you can even take a year away from both school and work to pursue other opportunities and adventures. But whatever you do, apply your sense of purpose and make sure you’re prepared to learn or gain something valuable from your experience. — Meanwhile, visit MyPerfectResume for the application tools you’ll need when you’re ready to start reaching out to employers.