Nov. 15, 2012 -- The job market appears to continue to improve as hiring is expected to increase 5 percent for new college graduates, according to an annual survey by the Michigan State University's Collegiate Employment Research Institute.
Aubrey Primer, a senior majoring in public relations at the University of Florida, has had a range of jobs and internships but she still finds the job market daunting.
"I'm trying to make myself marketable because I know the job market is intimidating now," she said. "Chances are slimmer if you have a narrow mind of what you want to do."
She has held jobs in operations with the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, in marketing with her college as well as working for a record label in New York City.
"A lot of HR people have told me the more adaptable you are, the better," she said.
The survey polled 4,300 employer representatives including 2,864 hiring managers or recruiters for full-time positions and 444 internship and co-op program managers. Employers were slightly more optimistic this year about the college labor market than last year, rating the overall market as "fair" and "good."
Hiring for those new college grads with a bachelor's degree is up 5 percent, boosting optimism for college seniors in a recovering labor market. The unemployment rate is 7.9 percent, with 12.3 million Americans unemployed.
Justin Hull, a senior at New York University majoring in economics with a minor in Japanese, spoke with almost 30 people at about a dozen firms.
The on-campus recruitment process allowed him to interview early, yielding two job offers.
"Some people have had harder times finding a job than I have, and other people certainly have had an easier time too, but the fact that I know the steps, or formula, required to get my resume out to these companies has definitely made getting interviews easier," he said.
The "surprise" in this year's report, the institute said, was the strong demand for Associate's degrees, which is up more than 30 percent, in applied engineering, healthcare technology, business and computer science. The institute said that that finding mirrors data in other job growth reports that show Associate's degrees have outpaced four-year degrees for the past several months.
Meanwhile, those attending business schools aren't as lucky. Demand for grads with an MBA shrank by 6 percent.
The labor market for those with a Master's degree appears to "be stuck at the bottom of a U-shaped curve," the report states.
"Following the loss of opportunities in 2008 and 2009, the market is essentially flat-lining and showing none of the same strong gains as the markets for Bachelor's and Associate's degrees," the report states.
The survey cited employers' concerns about a shortage of qualified candidates in some areas for both new graduates and experienced workers. Firms are concerned about college student preparedness and their lack of work experience in professional settings and attitudes toward work.
Of college majors, accounting was employers' most requested type of Bachelor's degree, though accounting at CPA firms is trending downward this year, a surprise change.
"Business remains the most frequently requested major," the report states. "Marketing and advertising are making strong gains compared to last year."