New college grad job outlook is more competition and lower pay

Those armed with a newly minted diploma are facing the worst hiring season for new college graduates since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Just last year, improved job opportunities and better pay were common across most industries. Now, college seniors are adopting a “take what you can get” approach to employment, according to a new report from iCIMS, a talent acquisition software company.

Soon-to-be-graduates intend to apply for 20 jobs, on average, as of late March, up from 10 in the first half of the month, iCIMS found.

“Candidates are hedging their bets,” said Irene DeNigris, chief people officer at iCIMS. That means there are more applicants per opening and new grads are also competing for positions with more experienced workers who are now out of a job, DeNigris  said.  

In the last five weeks, the number of Americans who have filed for unemployment jumped to 26.45 million, wiping out more than a decade’s worth of gains.

As the coronavirus crisis brings the economy to its knees, increased competition puts downward pressure on salaries and benefits. Starting salaries now average $54,585, down from last year’s $59,765 for entry-level offerings, iCIMS found.

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Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of employers are considering revoking offers that have already been made to the class of 2020, according to a separate survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

Internships, once considered key to landing a job when you graduate, are getting hit hard. About 70% of offers to interns for summer 2020 are being rescinded, NACE found.

On the upside, even without the same internship opportunities, “there are still jobs available,” DeNigris said. “They just may not be in the industries or types of roles people were considering.”

Here’s who’s hiring

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there is demand for graduates from industries on the frontlines, particularly in health care and online retail — even as other sectors remain at a standstill.

Administrative support and waste management, retail, transportation and health care were among the sectors with the highest number of open job listings as of mid-April, according to CareerBuilder. 

As for the employers with the most openings, Amazon, Dollar General and Pegasus Transportation are all hiring, CareerBuilder found. Amazon alone said it plans to hire an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers amid a surge in online orders.

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