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College Grads to Face Toughest Job Market in Years

Amid worsening economic prospects, marked by Friday's Labor Department report announcing new unemployment highs, the class of 2008 faces a tough job markets for new college graduates. Two career-development experts discuss the challenges ahead for new job-seekers.

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    While the picture isn't exactly rosy, the prospects for new grads may not be as bad you think. According to an annual survey of college recruiters, employers plan to increase their hiring of new college graduates by 8 percent compared to last year.

    Here to tell us more: Marilyn Mackes is executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers; and Trudy Steinfeld, executive director of the Wasserman Center for Career Development at New York University.

    Well, Marilyn Mackes, just a moment ago we heard a portrait of the job market and the economy writ large, and it wasn't very pretty. Why is the market for new grads different?

    MARILYN MACKES, National Association of Colleges and Employers: Well, it's very interesting. You know, it was very bleak to hear that news, but, as you noted, we're seeing an 8 percent increase.

    Now, I will tell you that this follows four straight years of double-digit increases in college hiring. So there is a bit of a slowdown, but it's still a pretty good market.

    What happens in the college market is that employers start their recruiting much earlier for the hiring. They start as early as the fall of the senior year. And, quite honestly, they're converting a lot of internships students have had prior to that.

    So what happens is that sometimes what happens with the college market is that it will lag what is happening in the economy.


    Trudy Steinfeld, are you seeing the same thing in one college, one university that's sending its grads out into the marketplace?

    TRUDY STEINFELD, Wasserman Center for Career Development at New York University: The college market at New York University for employment has really remained pretty robust.

    And I think that, really, the factors — to dovetail what Marilyn has said — is that, number one, college hiring does start very, very early. The recruiting cycle could be 10 months ahead of when they expect students to start.

    Another factor is top talent from colleges and universities such as NYU are cheaper than more experienced labor. And I think that's why many employers in a variety of sectors are going to the college market to really fill their ranks.

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