College Grads Wooed in Strong Job Market

ByABC News
May 17, 2006, 7:12 PM

May 17, 2006 — -- The students at Columbia University had more than one excuse for exuberance today: First, today was their graduation ceremony, and second, the ceremony will likely be followed by some prompt employment.

"Companies have been recruiting very heavily," one graduate told us. Other grads said they received signing bonuses and are pleased with their starting salaries.

The students at Columbia are not the only ones smiling. Career counselors at colleges and universities across the country said they saw real increases in the numbers of job recruiters on campus this year.

"We saw more employers coming to campus, both for on-campus job fairs and postings," said Liz Michaels, associate dean of students at the University of Chicago. "And we saw more offers being made to our students."

Political science major Meghan Berry accepted one of the several job offers she received from investment banks. She said her graduation day would be "extremely exciting and totally worry-free."

Online job site did an unscientific poll of its member companies and found 72 percent of them plan to hire recent graduates this spring or summer, compared with 64 percent last year.

"The baby boomers are retiring. Companies have neglected to fill their pipeline over the last few years because of cost-cutting decisions. Now they have to get with it, and they're hiring these new grads in record numbers," said John Challenger, at Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

One lesson these grads will learn as they head out into the real world: The economy goes up -- and down.

So while they're feeling regal now, those signing bonuses and six-figure salaries may, at some point, be much harder to come by.