Job Picture Looks Bleak for 2013 College Grads

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Leland Bobbe | Stone | Getty Images

Even as new numbers show the overall employment picture improving—or at least not getting worse—new college graduates may not be so lucky when it comes to finding work.

A survey released last week from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that businesses plan to hire only 2.1 percent more college graduates from the class of 2013 than they did from the class of 2012.

That's way down from an earlier NACE projection of a 13 percent hiring rate for 2013 grads. (Read More: Surging Student-Loan Debt Is Crushing the System)

This comes even as the college graduate jobless picture seems to be getting better. The rate of unemployment in 2012 for college grads—defined as 20-24 years old—was 6.3 percent, down from the 8.3 percent for 2011 graduates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate in 2010 was 9.4 percent.

It's not only a bleaker job outlook 2013 graduates face. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the class of 2013 will likely earn less over the next 10-15 years, than they would have before the recession hit and jobs were more plentiful.

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NACE said employment areas with the greatest demand for this year's graduates include business, engineering, computer sciences and accounting.

One reason there may not be so many grads hired is that many employers don't believe college graduates are trained properly.

A survey of 500 hiring managers by recruitment firm Adecco, found that a majority—66 percent— believe new college graduates are not prepared for the workforce after leaving college. Fifty-eight percent said they were not planning to hire entry level graduates this year, and among those managers hiring, 69 percent said they plan to bring on only one or two candidates.

"Too many students are graduating with a weak background in science and math," said Mauri Ditzler, president of Monmouth College.

"We need to make sure our graduates know the basics and many don't."

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A frequent mistake graduates make that keeps them from getting even an interview is spelling, according to the Adecco survey. Forty-three percent of managers said spelling errors on resumes can automatically disqualify a graduate from being interviewed.

In fact, 54 percent in the survey said they failed to hire anyone in the last two years because of a weak resume, regardless of having a good interview.

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"Businesses want people in a chosen field but they also want people who can read and write and who are cultural literate," said Jonathan Hill, an associate dean for special programs and projects at Pace University.

"College students must take courses in the humanities like English classes as well as focus on science and math," Hill said. "Otherwise, graduates are going to have a tough time in the job market."