College Seniors Face Lack of Entry-Level Jobs

College Seniors Face Lack of Entry-Level Jobs

College Seniors Face Lack of Entry-Level Jobs

As those laid off during the recession continue to apply for entry-level positions, college seniors are facing more competition than expected.


Ithaca College senior Scott Steimer wants to be a research analyst after he graduates in May. But as the people who were laid off during the recession apply for more entry-level positions, Steimer may face more competition for his dream job — or any job — than he anticipated.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, from January 2007 through December 2009, 6.9 million workers were displaced from jobs they held for at least three years. Of these workers who had been permanently laid off or received a notice of layoff or termination, about half were re-employed in January 2010.

James Borbely, an economist with the current population survey of the Division of Labor Force Statistics, said the level of displaced workers during that three-year period outpaced any other three-year period. He said there’s some linkage between young people just out of college having more difficultly finding work because of the competition with older workers who are still trying to find jobs.

“It seems reasonable to assert that there probably is some additional competition, some additional pressure on the labor market because there are so many people without work still,” Borbely said.

Peter Perri, financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, also said entering the job market is tricky this year because of the competition with displaced workers.

“[Displaced workers] who were making six figure incomes three or four years ago are more than happy to take half of that at this point,” he said. “Unless a business thinks they can hire a recent college graduate for half of that half, then they’ll take the experienced person for half price.”

For Steimer, a finance and accounting major, he said the rehiring of these displaced workers is hindering his job search.

“Even the job postings that don’t explicitly say two to three years, they will say one-year experience preferred, master of business administration preferred,” he said. “If I apply to this job, they may consider me, but as soon as an MBA kid shows up, I’m out of the running.”

However, John Bradac, director of career services at Ithaca College, cited a report published last Thursday by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which said the hiring outlook for the class of 2011 is positive—53.3 percent of respondents anticipate an increase in their college hiring, up from less than 50 percent in the fall.

Bradac said graduates should not worry about displaced workers because there is always a market for entry-level professionals. He said searching for a job is a process that takes time, effort and energy.

Sherry Burford ’73, career coach with Horizons Career Coaching, said graduates from 2008 to 2010 faced a very difficult hiring environment, which could pose more competition for today’s graduates.

“For those graduates who have bailed out [of the job search], they have been waiting for things to improve,” she said. “Recent grads could be vying for the same jobs and that is largely due to the instability of the whole emerging job market.”

Burford said today’s graduates need to be prepared with a primary strategy, such as an ultimate career goal, but she also said they need to take responsibility to find employment throughout their lives.

Another Ithaca College senior Orhun Unsal, a finance and marketing major, said his dream job is to be an international environmental consultant for sustainable development. Unsal has applied for positions at several international development firms. Though he has the qualifications for particular positions, he said he does not have the new requirements many organizations now require.

“That’s really the route of the whole issue,” he said. “Why would a firm hire a new graduate when they can have a guy with five years experience instead?” Unsal said.


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