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Job Market Slowly Improving for U Class of 2011

May 4, 2011 — Undergraduate students who are walking in this year’s University of Utah (the U) commencement can breathe a little easier knowing that the job outlook is “slowly rebounding,” according to Stan Inman, director of U Career Services.

Inman cites a regional report by the Mountain Pacific Association of Colleges and Employers (MPACE), which says hiring in 2011 is expected to increase over last year for both bachelor’s degree and MBA graduates, especially by small and fast-growing companies. He says there’s also a noticeable upward trend in hiring by large employers (those with greater than 4,000 employees), which have stayed pretty dormant in the recent economic downturn.

MPACE surveyed 896 companies and organizations within the region, which covers 11 states in the western U.S., Hawaii, Alaska and Guam.

The survey is good news for bachelor’s degree holders and those seeking a master’s in business administration (MBA). According to MPACE, undergraduate hiring is holding to about the same levels as last year, with a slight increase of one percent. MBA hiring has climbed by two percent this year.

“It’s nice to see a focus on undergraduate degrees,” Inman says. “And, it is worth noting that this survey shows that employers seek the best talent, regardless the student’s major.” The data shows that 35 percent of employers seek students with all types of degrees. “Time and again, I am reminded that employers look for individuals who can solve problems and manage priorities. Those skills are essential to the undergraduate experience in any major course of study at the U.” Inman notes the example of investment firm Goldman Sachs, which regularly recruits U business majors “and also aggressively seeks recruits from the humanities.” He says this is because humanities undergrads learn skills that employers see as essential for success-such as time management, the ability to work in a diverse environment, critical thinking and effective communication.

While the MPACE report shows that all majors are important to most employers, companies are recruiting heavily in IT, computer science and business. The four most popularly targeted majors in the survey were accounting, marketing, finance and computer science-all very popular majors at the U. From 2006 to 2010, accounting and finance held 25 and 32 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the David Eccles School of Business, respectively. Marketing was responsible for 13 percent of the business degrees, and undergrads who were awarded a computer science degree made up 16 percent of the College of Engineering majors.

Still more good news for the U graduating class: most U.S. employers (88 percent) surveyed by the association recruit their workforce from public four-year institutions. The majority of these employers are in the scientific and professional sector, encompassing a wide range of services from legal to marketing, compared to employers in government, non-profit or manufacturing sectors. Regionally, the number was similar, with 86 percent recruiting from public four-year schools. The survey shows for-profit colleges-seen as increasingly competitive with public universities-still produce fewer job recruits regionally and nationally (12 and 13 percent, respectively).

Overall, employers taking part in the survey consider the talent pool in their own region to be “fair to good,” which is slightly higher than their perception of the national talent pool. The report says that “based on their expectations this year, 29 percent of employers have definite plans to hire college graduates.” Only 13 percent of employers surveyed said they will not be hiring. The rest of the responses range from “would like to hire” to “definitely will hire.”

While many companies have already taken down their “help wanted” signs and snapped up this year’s fresh crop of college grads, there is still some time for those U graduates who haven’t yet stepped onto their career path. About 37 percent of MPACE respondents expect to begin hiring this summer, or even later into 2011. But, a word to the wise: get your resume in order and start prepping for your interview. The employers surveyed said that compared to those seeking jobs five years ago, the current graduating population has much more competitive and better prepared resumes, but their interviewing preparations leave a little to be desired. Having both might just seal the deal.

U graduates and alumni who seek career advice are encouraged to call University Career Services at 801-581-6186, or visit