The most competitive industries for new graduates

Graduating from college is an exciting yet uncertain time for many students as the overall job market is becoming more complex as time goes on. The current job market is quite dynamic, and the competition for employment is tough. However, as the economy continues to gain steam, earning a college degree remains worthwhile.


While the data out there can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on perspective, the outlook for graduates in 2015 looks more positive than it has in recent years, and there are a slew of industries on the lookout for recent graduates.


FILLING VACANCIES Recently, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed human resource professionals in a variety of industries to determine the prevalence of organizations hiring new graduates in 2015. Of those surveyed, respondents stated that occupations like sales representatives, accounting/finance professionals, human resource professionals, administrative support staff, and customer service representatives were the easier positions to fill with 2015 graduates. Occupations requiring a higher skill level, such as scientists, skilled trades, engineers, technicians and programmers, were more difficult to fill. The supply of graduates in each of these categories can determine pay and provide an indication of demand in these industries.


TOP PAY AND DEMAND According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2015 Report, finance, accounting, and computer science were the degrees that were in the most demand at the bachelor’s and master’s degree level. Of the employers surveyed, 57.4% stated that they will hire finance majors, 56.1% will hire accounting majors, and 53.8% will be on the lookout for computer science majors at the bachelor’s degree level. At the master’s degree level, 24.2% of employers will hire finance majors, 23.8% will hire computer science majors, and 22% will hire accounting majors. Majors in business administration, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and information sciences and systems at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels weren’t far behind in employer preferences.


Another recent survey from CareerBuilder provided more insight into employers’ most desired majors and jobs in 2015. Business topped the list at 38%, followed by computer and information sciences at 27%, and engineering at 18%. Additionally, 30% of hiring managers are looking to fill information technology jobs, 28% need to fill customer service jobs, 22% have available positions in finance/accounting, and 21% are looking to fill roles in sales.


NACE also performed a salary survey that revealed the average salary projection for 2015 college graduates. For those with bachelor’s degrees, average pay will be $62,998 for engineering, $61,287 for computer science, $56,171 for math and sciences, and $51,508 for business. Those earning master’s degrees should expect approximately $71,140 for computer science, $69,698 for engineering, $67,890 for business and $64,465 for math and sciences.


PERSPECTIVE AND THE BOTTOM LINE Although this information can be overwhelming to absorb, there are conclusions that can be drawn from it. When the supply of skilled candidates is lower, the going market salary will be higher. This is why many hiring managers are finding it more challenging to fill engineering, computer science, and math/science positions with new graduates. Hence, fresh alumni with these skills should have less difficulty securing a position in any of these industries as the demand for their skills is great. The competition will lie more on the employer side, as businesses must aim to entice graduates that might be considering multiple offers.


On the other hand, employers have also experienced greater ease when hiring for finance, accounting, sales, human resources, and customer service jobs, suggesting a larger pool of qualified candidates. As a result, the average paying salary for business candidates is lower in comparison to science, math, and engineering fields. Plus, with a greater supply of candidates, there will be more competition for securing a job in these fields.


In summary, job vacancies in industries like finance, accounting, sales, human resources, and customer service should tend to be the most competitive. With an increased graduate population and a steady level of hiring, those seeking employment will have to differentiate themselves through internship opportunities, career center advice, and strong networking. Performing these steps should put candidates in a better position to secure employment and set themselves up for long-term professional success.


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