Things may be looking up for the Class of 2012.
A Harris Interactive poll for CareerBuilder shows that employers plan to hire recent college graduates this year. That’s good news for those who need to pay off their part of the estimated $1 trillion in student loan debt that students have accumulated.
“What we’re looking at are the number of job postings, and we’re seeing an increase across industries and company size,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, told CNBC.com.
According to the survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers, 54 percent reported they plan to hire recent college graduates in 2012. That is up from 46 percent in 2011, and 44 percent in 2010.
That report is in stark contrast to a study released by the Associated Press this week that showed that half of college graduates are either jobless or underemployed. That study was conducted by Northeastern University researchers.
The CareerBuilder survey, on the other hand, projects what employers plan to do in the year ahead.
Of those firms that say they plan to hire recent grads, the survey reports that nearly a third — 30 percent — would offer starting salaries in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. Another 21 percent planned to offer $40,000 to $50,000, and 28 percent were looking to hire people they would pay $50,000 and higher.
“Employers are trying to get ahead of the curve, locking in the right talent and keeping them,” said Haefner. “That includes paying them well.”
Information technology and customer service ranked highest — at 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively — on the list of sectors where employers planned to recruit, areas where employers have been steadily filling slots even during the recession. Haefner said the fact that finance and accounting (18 percent) and marketing (17 percent) were also high on the list is an indication companies are feeling more confident about the long-term.
“Business development and marketing in double digits — we haven’t seen that size in a while. Companies had been moving people around internally, doubling up on jobs," she said. "That increase is a nice indicator. They’re building infrastructure in the company.”
Those financial and marketing jobs could be filled by business majors — 39 percent of respondents said they would be looking to hire graduates with business degrees.
“Businesses are not necessarily looking for someone with specific skills,” said Haefner. “They’re hiring talent, someone has a strong foundation of knowledge to further train them, get them excited about what they are going to be doing. It’s really a longer-term investment for the company.”
Graduates with specific skill sets are quite employable, however. Computer and information science majors remain in high demand, at 24 percent, engineering majors are close behind at 23 percent, and health-related professions added another 13 percent.
Haefner said that graduates who have been out of school one or two years should feel heartened by the positive survey results, as well.
“The advantage [those graduates] have is that they’ve been gaining experience for last one or two years,” she said. “Hiring managers are not just looking at formal job experience. Volunteer work and internships all count.”
Indeed, even a blog about adventures in barista-land could count for something. According to the survey, 12 percent of employers said they would count social media as relevant experience. But college grads, beware: Before you go showing off your social networking sites, make sure there’s nothing offensive. Fifteen percent of employers who responded to the CareerBuilder survey said they didn’t hire a recent college graduate because of something they saw on that person’s social media site.